If you are following this blog, then you know that Maggie Dunne, now a Freshman at Colgate University, founded the Lakota Pine Ridge Children's Enrichment Project, Ltd. ("LPRCEP"), after she visited the Pine Ridge Reservation as a volunteer through Re-Member. Maggie was was shocked by the poverty that she saw in our own country and when she returned back to New York, she felt a need to do more to help with the situation on the Reservation. Pursuant to our mission, since its formation LRPCEP has focused its efforts on providing aid to Lakota children on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Yesterday, as part of USA Weekend's Make a Difference Day initiative, (for the second year working with USA Weekend) LPRCEP sent off approximately 700 children's winter coats, along with warm outerwear to be distributed to children at the Crazy Horse School, a Wanblee Head Start facility and the Wanblee Day Care Center. In addition, we sent off approximately 1,000 children's books to those same facilities, all located on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
LPRCEP was joined in collecting coats and warm outerwear by the newly-formed Scarsdale High School Club, the Pine Ridge Reservation Aid Club. Abby Weingarten and Helen Bush formed this club after hearing the presentation of Jerome and Theresa High Horse at LPRCEP's first annual fundraiser in June of 2009. At the fundraiser, Jerome and Theresa spoke about a family that froze to death last winter because they did not have heat and they did not have warm clothing to wear. They also told us how appreciative the Lakota children have been for the things that we have sent to the Reservation in the past. For example, last year's coat shipment arrived only days before a blizzard struck the region and coats were distributed by the Red Cross at an emergency shelter.
Yesterday, with the help of the High School Club, led by Helen Bush and Abby Weingarten, and with a huge assist from Scarsdale faculty advisor, Chris Renino (who was Maggie's advisor for the Spring fundraiser as well), and with the help of other student and community volunteers, we shipped the largest single shipment of coats we have ever sent to the reservation!
Although Maggie was unable to be present today, we have to credit her for organizing this event, for soliciting donations and we note that she devoted last weekend (her four day Fall break) to sorting and folding about 2/3 of the items that we shipped today, as part of the USA Weekend volunteer iniative. Last week, we were joined by volunteers from the Scarsdale Congregational Church, who were volunteering for a day of service. We have learned from experience that this packaging project cannot be done in one day and, thankfully, with the help of many, we pulled it off!
The items that we shipped to Pine Ridge will be distributed with the assistance of the Wanblee Medic #5 Unit of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Ambulence Service, under the supervision of Jon Siedschlaw. We look forward to seeing his photographs documenting the arrival of the coats and books on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Jon will also coordinate his efforts with Jerome and Theresa High Horse, who live in Wanblee, and who convinced him to help us in our efforts!
Finally, at Maggie's direction, we sent off two extra-large boxes for Jeda and Stryker and their siblings, which Jon Seidschlaw and the Wanblee Medic Unit 5, Oglala Sioux Tribe Ambulence Service, have agreed to deliver to Jeda and her family. Jeda is the little girl who is pictured in the photo that appears in all of our materials. When Maggie met Jeda, it was under thirty degrees outside and she was wearing only a t-shirt and flip flops. To a great extent, Jeda was the inspiration for the creation of LPRCEP. Jon Siedschlaw has agreed to deliver the designated boxes of clothing and other items to her. Included in Jeda's boxes are some of Maggie's favorite books, along with a few purses, backpacks and lots of pink and other colorful sweaters. We heard that Jeda's mother died this past year, and we hope that this care package cheers up the kids!
Since you are wondering; some of our future projects:
- We are planning our second annual fundraiser for June 2010;
- Maggie is leading a student group to Re-Member in March, 2010;
- Maggie is delivering abandoned and salvaged appliances, clothing and school supplies collected from her college dorms to the reservation in May, 2010;
- We are discussing the purchase laptop computers for some of the underfunded schools;
- We continue to explore a location to house a full library or to purchase a mobile library van, as we have offers to stock an entire library!
- We will try continue to try to find corporate partners/donors to provide the children with shoes and other necessities.
- We will continue our efforts to promote awareness about the conditions faced by the Lakota on Pine Ridge (and many other reservations), as we have found that people have no idea that this poverty exists in our own country.
Thank you everyone for your continuing support!