The Cheyenne River Youth Project® has announced that it is now accepting donations for its 2017 School Supplies Drive, scheduled to take place at the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2. All members of CRYP’s Family Services program are welcome to participate with their children.

Families who aren’t able to attend the distribution are welcome to visit Cokata Wiconi at a later date to choose their school supplies. Each year, CRYP serves more than 500 Cheyenne River children at the scheduled August distribution and in the days and weeks to follow.

On South Dakota’s remote, 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Lakota reservation, which comprises two of the poorest counties in the nation, most families don’t have room in their budgets for annual school supplies. That’s why staff and volunteers at CRYP work so hard to organize and distribute these much-needed items to their community’s schoolchildren.

“Every child deserves to start the new school year with the tools he or she needs to be successful,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “They also should be able to enjoy the excitement, anticipation and fun of preparing for the first day of school. At our distribution on Aug. 2, our kids will be able to choose their favorite items, help their parents make sure they’ve gotten everything on their lists, connect with friends, and be able to start the new year at the same starting line as everyone else.”

CRYP’s annual School Supplies Drive is a major component of its Family Services Program, created in 2002 to manage the increasing amounts of donated supplies that the youth project provides to local families year-round. To participate in the program, all a local family needs to do is pay a $30 annual membership fee. The one-time payment covers all family members for the year.

“For just $30, a Cheyenne River family can participate in all of our Family Services distributions, from our annual school supplies, shoes and winter clothing drives to our long-running Christmas Toy Drive,” Garreau explained. “They also can pick up needed household supplies and baby items on a regular basis, and they can participate in our annual heat assistance program during the cold winter and early spring months.”

Those who have current Family Services memberships receive invitations for their children to attend the School Supplies Drive distribution. If a family does not have a membership but is interested in obtaining one, simply call the CRYP office at (605) 964-8200. All children must have invitations to receive their new school supplies.

If some families are unable to attend the distribution or are new to the community and haven’t had the opportunity to join Family Services in time for the distribution, CRYP ensures that it has plenty of school supplies in stock so it can distribute them throughout the month of August.

“We want to make life a bit easier for our kids by helping their families and caregivers,” Garreau said. “Together, we can make sure all of Cheyenne River’s children are ready for the first day of school.”

To operate its Family Services Program, CRYP relies on a variety of important contributors. Critical donors include organizational partners, church groups, service groups and private individuals.

“We wouldn’t be able to provide school supplies to so many children here on Cheyenne River without the support of our many friends and supporters, near and far,” Garreau said. “We know we’re going to have hundreds of children show up, hoping to receive everything they need to start the year off right, and we need to be ready for them. They rely on us.”

To support the 2017 School Supplies drive, please send in-kind donations:
* backpacks for grades 1-12
* protractors
* compasses
* calculators
* mechanical pencils
* regular and colored pencils
* crayons
* markers
* folders
* pencil cases
* notebook paper
* kid-friendly scissors
* erasers
* glue sticks
* pencils, pens and rulers
* * writing tablets for preschoolers and kindergartners
* fat crayons and fat pencils for preschoolers and kindergartners

Contributors also may send funds, which the staff will use to purchase any additional items needed. In-kind donations and checks may be sent to: Cheyenne River Youth Project, 702 4th St., P.O. Box 410, Eagle Butte, SD 57625. To donate online, simply click “Help CRYP” in the above navigation bar. All contributions need to be in-house no later than Tuesday, Aug. 1, so CRYP staff members and volunteers will have time to organize the supplies and prepare for hundreds of excited children.

To stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.