For nearly 30 years, the Cheyenne River Youth Project has been bringing joy to families on Christmas day through our annual Christmas Toy Drive. The Christmas Toy Drive is not just about the gifts that children receive under their tree – it is about the gift of hope and wishes fulfilled.
In keeping with our hard work of also incorporating more Lakota language, culture and life ways into all of our programs, we have named our long-running, deeply beloved program the Wo Otúh’an Wi Toy Drive. Wo Otúh’an Wi means “the moon of giving away presents” and it captures the spirit of the Christmas season and of Santa Claus in a way that also resonate with traditional Lakota values.
Many of our children suffer the effects of poverty everyday, continuously going without, knowing that luxuries like new toys or clothes are simply not available to them. Our children handle this reality with an incredible grace and humility that is truly touching. This is why watching their faces on Christmas morning, as we arrive with their gifts, is so special for us.
Our kids always surprise us with their undulled excitement, gratitude and even cookies left out for Santa to sample as he passes through! Families gather together to watch their children’s smiling faces as they open their gifts and ohhh and awww over each item. The program serves over 1,500 children all over Eagle Butte and the surrounding communities.
The program does take a lot of preparation and dedication on the part of our staff and volunteers, as well as our wonderful donors. CRYP accepts “Letters to Santa” from October-late November and passes them on to friends and organizations all over the country. These generous individuals then choose gifts with personal attention to each child’s particular dreams and wishes. The gifts are sent to CRYP for sorting and wrapping by a tireless group of community volunteers who work day and night to have the work completed by Christmas Eve. Santa and his elves are then up bright and early on Christmas Day to hand deliver each family’s gifts.
CRYP would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all of our friends and family participating in the Toy Drive each year. Thanks also to Fairview High School (Boulder Colorado), the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Spirit of Sovereignty Foundation, Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, Fredricks, Peeples and Morgan LLC, and St. Louis Chapter of CRYP, who lend significant support to the program.
How to Help!
- Make a tax-deductible donation using the form below.
- Make a tax-deductible donation by sending cash, a check or a money order to: The Cheyenne River Youth Project, P.O. Box 410, Eagle Butte, SD 57625.
- Donate a gift. To request a specific “Dear Santa” letter and to see the most-requested-gift list, contact Julie Garreau, Executive Director, at (605) 964-8200 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Donate gift cards, gift bags, wrapping paper, tissue paper, tape or anything else that might assist in toy-drive preparations.
- Consider donating a Santa suit! We’d also love clothes for Mrs. Claus and the elves.
- Spread the word! Please share CRYP’s 2019 Wo Otúh’an Wi Toy Drive posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and if you have friends or family members who might like to make a donation, please let them know how they can help.
Donate to the 2019 Wo Otúh’an Wi Toy Drive
Take a minute and check our our 2018 Christmas video below.
EXPLORE FAMILY SERVICES
In an effort to empower our families and place their future in their own hands, CRYP offers a membership program, whereby families of our youth participants pay an annual fee of $30 to have access to special services and supplies. Learn more about Family Services Membership.
Wo Otúh’an Wi Toy Drive
For many years now, the Cheyenne River Youth Project has been bringing joy to families on Christmas day through our annual Wo Otúh’an Wi Toy Drive. The Wo Otúh’an Wi Toy Drive is not just about the gifts that children receive under their tree – it is about the gift of hope and wishes fulfilled. Learn more about the Wo Otúh’an Wi Toy Drive.
The Family Services Program also provides many other services and assistance programs, some of which are seasonal or annual. Learn more about Other Services.