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CRYP Launches Dress Drive for 2017 Passion for Fashion

The Cheyenne River Youth Project® has officially launched its 2017 Dress Drive for Passion for Fashion. The nonprofit organization is asking its friends and supporters to donate everything from dresses to hair accessories so its young people can be ready for this spring’s high school prom.

On the surface, the prom is all about glamorous gowns and dashing tuxedos, fresh corsages and sparkling jewelry, popular music and lots of dancing. Underneath, however, this uniquely American rite of passage is about so much more—it’s a celebration of friendship, multigenerational bonding, and positive self-esteem.

Unfortunately, for too many teenagers on the Cheyenne River Lakota reservation and in neighboring rural towns, this vision can seem far from reality. Their families cannot spare the significant funds necessary for the latest formal wear and all the accessories, nor is it feasible for them to make the three- to five-hour round trip required to go shopping in distant Pierre or Rapid City.

Executive Director Julie Garreau, Youth Programs Director Tammy Granados and the rest of the CRYP staff firmly believe that Cheyenne River’s youth should have the same exciting, memorable prom experiences as those enjoyed by teens across America. To provide that experience, the grassroots youth project created Passion for Fashion in 2001.

“At its heart, Passion for Fashion has much in common with our more well-known Christmas Toy Drive,” Garreau said. “In both cases, our young people are simply amazed to see the miracle that unfolds at Cokata Wiconi. They feel how treasured they are, and they come to realize how many people truly do care.”

The 17th annual Passion for Fashion event is scheduled for 1-6 p.m. on Saturday, March 25 at Cokata Wiconi. For the ninth year in a row, it will feature a special theme.

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2017 Passion for Fashion: How to Help

If you would like to support the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s 2017 Dress Drive for Passion for Fashion, please considering contributing any of the following:

-New/Gently Used Formal Dresses (Sizes 4-26, especially sizes 16-26)
-Dress Accessories (Examples: Purses, Wraps, Scarves)
-Formal Shoes (especially sizes 9-12)
-Jewelry
-Hair Accessories & Care Products
-Facial, Manicure and Pedicure Supplies
-Makeup and Bath Sets
-Gift Cards
-Cash Donations

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    Together, We Brought Santa Claus to More Than 1,300 Children

Together, We Brought Santa Claus to More Than 1,300 Children

It takes more than a Christmas blizzard to stop the Cheyenne River Youth Project®. Despite subzero temperatures, howling winter winds and mountainous snow drifts, the nonprofit youth organization still managed to bring Santa Claus to more than 1,300 excited children across South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Lakota reservation this year.

As always, volunteers from around the country and Europe converged on CRYP’s Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center, which had been transformed into a 24-7 Santa’s Workshop for the month of December. These dedicated helpers worked around the clock to sort and wrap thousands of gifts arriving from every corner of the United States.

These gifts came from long-standing partners like the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and Running Strong for American Indian Youth, both based in Virginia; the Spirit of Sovereignty Foundation in Minnesota; the St. Louis Chapter of CRYP in Missouri; and Fairview High School, student groups at CU-Boulder, Fredericks Peebles & Morgan law firm, the American Indian College Fund and Lennar Construction, all in Colorado. But they also came from generous individuals whose contributions arrived in many forms.

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    It’s Not Too Late: Help CRYP Fulfill Remaining 400+ Dear Santa Letters Before Christmas!

It’s Not Too Late: Help CRYP Fulfill Remaining 400+ Dear Santa Letters Before Christmas!

CRYP is reaching out to its supporters and friends this week in a final push to bring Santa Claus to more than 1,600 children on South Dakota’s remote, 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Lakota reservation. According to Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, more than 400 “Dear Santa” letters remain to be adopted—with just five days left until Christmas.

Already, volunteers from across the United States and as far away as Ireland are converging on Santa’s Workshop at CRYP to sort and wrap thousands of gifts. These dedicated helpers work around the clock to ensure that each child will receive two or three gifts from his or her personal letter, as well as much-needed winter clothing and shoes.

The good news is that it’s not too late to help.

“At this point in December, there’s no question that donations are down over previous years,” Garreau said. “That being said, we know from experience that incredible things can happen in the last few days before the holiday.

“Supporters absolutely can contact us to adopt letters, if they would like to fulfill the children’s Christmas wishes and send the gifts to our campus in Eagle Butte,” she continued. “If it’s easier, however, simply click the ‘Donate’ button on our website and make an online contribution. It’s fully tax deductible, and we’ll do the shopping on our end to make sure all the children who wrote letters to Santa have the happy, joyful Christmas they so richly deserve.”

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Coming in 2017: The Waniyetu Wowapi Lakota Arts Institute

The Cheyenne River Youth Project’s eagerly anticipated Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Arts Institute will fully take shape in the new year, thanks to just-announced funding from ArtPlace America’s 2016 National Creative Placemaking Fund. The nonprofit, grassroots youth organization is one of just 29 projects chosen, from a field of nearly 1,400 applicants.

ArtPlace America’s National Creative Placemaking Fund is a highly competitive national program —funding 2 percent of initial applications—that invests money in communities across the country in which artists, arts organizations, and arts and culture activity will help drive community development change in the sectors of agriculture and food; economic development; education and youth; environment and energy; health, housing; immigration; public safety; transportation; or workforce development.

“Creative Placemaking seeks the full and robust integration of arts, culture, and community-engaged design into the decisions that define the ebb and flow of community life. These grant recipients embody what this looks like at its most effective best,” said Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation and chair of the ArtPlace President’s Council. “The sheer volume of applications for these grants suggests the growing updraft of creative placemaking efforts throughout the nation.”

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    Less Than Three Weeks Remain to Help CRYP Bring Santa to Cheyenne River

Less Than Three Weeks Remain to Help CRYP Bring Santa to Cheyenne River

Less than three weeks remain before Christmas Eve and the arrival of Santa Claus on the Cheyenne River Lakota reservation. More than 1,600 children are eagerly awaiting his sleigh, hoping to receive the special gifts they shared with him in their Dear Santa letters.

Bringing Christmas to hundreds of families in 20 communities across the remote, 2.8-million reservation is a massive undertaking. It’s a lot of gifts. But the toy drive is about so much more than that. For too many Cheyenne River families, household budgets simply cannot stretch to cover winter clothes, much less holiday gifts and all the seasonal trimmings and trappings. That can take its toll on children here, who don’t understand why Christmas magic seems to belong to so many others, but not to them.

Tammy Eagle Hunter, CRYP’s youth programs director, recalled witnessing a little boy turn down the opportunity to tell Santa Claus what he wanted for Christmas.

“He said, ‘Why should I? I’m not going to get it anyway. I ask for it every year,’” she said. “That broke my heart, to see a child without hope—to see him discount the possibility that he might receive something precious to him, and that he might experience a heartfelt wish coming true. That’s why we work so hard at CRYP during the holiday season. Our children often have to grow up way too fast due to circumstances beyond their control. On Christmas, at least for one day, they should get to celebrate the joy of just being a kid.”

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    Coming Up: Holiday Artists’ Market and “Festival of Trees” on November 20!

Coming Up: Holiday Artists’ Market and “Festival of Trees” on November 20!

On Sunday, November 20, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® will open the doors to its Cokata Wiconi (“Center of Life”) teen center for a very special annual event: the Holiday Artists’ Market. For the sixth consecutive year, the nonprofit youth organization will host community artisans, craftspeople, chefs and bakers as they make their wares available to the public in festive holiday environment.

What’s more, the Holiday Artists’ Market officially will kick off CRYP’s annual “Festival of Trees.” Up to 30 organizations are welcome to decorate holiday trees at Cokata Wiconi; the trees will remain on display throughout the holiday season.

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    CRYP Introduces an Indigenous Arts “Rezolution” with New RedCan Documentary

CRYP Introduces an Indigenous Arts “Rezolution” with New RedCan Documentary

The Cheyenne River Youth Project® has just released its eagerly anticipated RedCan graffiti jam documentary. Available to the public on the youth project’s YouTube channel and through its Facebook page, the approximately nine-minute video introduces audiences to RedCan, its featured artists, CRYP’s Waniyetu Wowapi (“Winter Count”) Art Park, and the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation.

Perhaps even more importantly, the documentary introduces viewers to Cheyenne River’s children—and the critical role RedCan plays in their lives.

“Ever since we founded RedCan in 2015, we’ve recognized that it’s so much more than a graffiti jam,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We’re proud that we created an unprecedented way for graffiti culture and Lakota culture to come together, but as we experienced the first RedCan and then saw the second one completely eclipse the first in terms of outreach and impact, we realized that what we really created is a revolution.”

That revolution also is what Garreau called a “rezolution.” Not only does RedCan expose Cheyenne River’s young people to what has become the largest and longest-running art movement in human history, it encourages them to explore their own unique identities, find their voices, share their stories and truths, and find positive, healthy means of self-expression.

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    300 Children Take Part in 2016 School Supplies Distribution, With More to Come

300 Children Take Part in 2016 School Supplies Distribution, With More to Come

The Cheyenne River Youth Project® announced today that more than 300 children have attended its annual school supplies distribution at the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center this month. The nonprofit youth organization is expecting to serve many more children before the first day of school.

Those who were unable to attend the official distribution on August 8, who didn’t have the opportunity to join Family Services in time or who are new to the community still may participate. CRYP has plenty of school supplies in stock so it can distribute them throughout the month of August.

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    CRYP Will Welcome Loretta Barrett Oden to Eagle Butte on Aug. 11-12

CRYP Will Welcome Loretta Barrett Oden to Eagle Butte on Aug. 11-12

The Cheyenne River Youth Project® has announced that it will welcome native chef, food historian and lecturer Loretta Barrett Oden to its Eagle Butte campus on Thursday and Friday, August 11-12. Oden is spending two days at CRYP courtesy of the nonprofit, grassroots youth project’s “Learning to Eat Like Our Ancestors” initiative.

Oden, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, will conduct a cooking demo and workshop on Thursday, and a business entrepreneurship workshop on Friday. Both are open to CRYP’s teen interns and interested members of the Cheyenne River community.

CRYP also will be screening a very special episode of “Seasoned with Spirit: A Native Cook’s Journey,” the five-part, Emmy Award-winning TV series Oden hosts on PBS. This program celebrates native history and culture with delicious, healthy recipes inspired by indigenous foods; in episode 3, Oden traveled to the Cheyenne River Lakota reservation to learn about buffalo and preparing the lean, healthy meat.

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