605-964-8200|lakotayouth@gmail.com

Christmas Toy Drive

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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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    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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    Enter to Win Lakota Star Quilt & Support Our Christmas Toy Drive

Enter to Win Lakota Star Quilt & Support Our Christmas Toy Drive

To celebrate the spirit of the season, and continue to raise much-needed funds so it can bring Christmas cheer to more than 1,600 children this year, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® is hosting a Winter Star Quilt Raffle. Tickets are on sale until the end of the day on Friday, December 23, and on Monday, December 26, CRYP staff will announce the lucky winner who will be receiving a handmade, queen-size Lakota star quilt.

Bonnie LeBeau, a Cheyenne River Sioux tribal member, hand-crafted the seasonally inspired quilt, which has been named “Prairie Winter.” According to Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, all funds raised through the raffle will benefit the annual Christmas Toy Drive, one of the nonprofit youth project’s longest-running and most important programs.

“We’re hoping to raise $3,000 in this year’s star quilt raffle,” Garreau said. “Those funds will go directly to our toy drive, which serves more than 1,600 children ages 4 to 18 in communities across our 2.8-million-acre reservation.”

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    CRYP Launches Annual Christmas Toy Drive for 1,600+ Children

CRYP Launches Annual Christmas Toy Drive for 1,600+ Children

By the time fall arrives, countless children are already writing their letters to Santa Claus, already counting down the days until he arrives with his bountiful stocking-stuffers and beautifully wrapped packages. Countless parents are already making their annual holiday to-do lists, hoping that they’ll get the holiday cards, shopping, baking, and decorating done on time this year.

Unfortunately, that’s not the reality for everyone. When there is no room in the family budget for gifts, much less ornaments or Christmas cookies, the holidays are likely to be stressful and sad rather than merry.

That’s why the Cheyenne River Youth Project started its annual Christmas Toy Drive more than a quarter century ago. On the Cheyenne River reservation in north-central South Dakota, the unemployment rate hovers near 75 percent, and approximately 60 percent of households with children under the age of 18 fall below the poverty line. Here, too many children would likely have no Christmas at all, so CRYP stepped in to help Santa Claus—and ease the burden on families who have so little.

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2016 Christmas Toy Drive: How to Help

There are several ways to help CRYP serve more than 1,600 children during the 2016 Christmas Toy Drive:

1. 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.

2. Make a tax-deductible donation via PayPal on the CRYP Web site at www.lakotayouth.org.

3. 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 julie.cryp@gmail.com.

4. Donate gift cards, gift bags, wrapping paper, tissue paper, tape or anything else that might assist in toy-drive preparations.

5. Consider donating a Santa suit! We’d also love clothes for Mrs. Claus and the elves.

6. Spread the word. If you have friends or family members who might like to make a donation, please let them know how they can help.

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    January Partners of the Month: Our 2015 Christmas Toy Drive Champions

January Partners of the Month: Our 2015 Christmas Toy Drive Champions

This month, we’d like to express our deepest gratitude to a very special group of CRYP supporters: the champions of the 2015 Christmas Toy Drive. With their help, we smashed our goal of serving 1,500 children. This past December, CRYP and its partners brought Santa Claus to more than 1,600 children across the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

Please read on, and click on the individual links to learn more about these worthy organizations, each of which has demonstrated the true meaning of Christmas with its generosity, friendship, and love.

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    2015 Christmas Toy Drive Brings Santa Claus to 1,600+ Children

2015 Christmas Toy Drive Brings Santa Claus to 1,600+ Children

The numbers are in, and they’re numbers the Cheyenne River Youth Project® has never seen before. In its 2015 Christmas Toy Drive, the 27-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization brought Santa Claus to more than 1,600 children across South Dakota’s remote Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

As they do every year, Cheyenne River’s children wrote heartfelt letters to Santa throughout the fall months, asking for gifts for themselves and frequently for family members as well. This past fall, letters came from 340 families, regular participants at CRYP’s Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center and The Main youth center, and children who live in local shelters and foster care.

“During the past few years, we’ve set a goal of serving 1,500 children at Christmastime,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We constantly strive to expand our reach and serve more children each year, since the need is so great on Cheyenne River. We’re stunned that we not only exceeded our goal this year, we exceeded it by more than 100 children. We simply couldn’t have done that without all of our dedicated partners, and our army of around-the-clock volunteers. It’s so much more than a seasonal toy drive. It’s a movement.”

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    PLEASE HELP: 300+ “Dear Santa” Letters Remain to be Adopted

PLEASE HELP: 300+ “Dear Santa” Letters Remain to be Adopted

Christmas is a little more than two weeks away, which means the clock is winding down for Cheyenne River Youth Project® staff and volunteers as they prepare to bring Santa Claus to 1,500 children across South Dakota’s remote, 2.8-million-acre reservation. More than 300 “Dear Santa” letters remain to be adopted — but it’s not too late to help.

“All you need to do is contact us for a ‘Dear Santa’ letter, which will contain a child’s wish list for Santa and his or her shoe and clothing sizes,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “Or, if you would prefer to contribute funds, you can donate through our website at lakotayouth.org. We’ll do the shopping on our end, ensuring that every child who wrote to Santa will have something special underneath the tree this year.

“Donated funds also will help us feed and house the many volunteers from around the world who come to support us during the Christmas Toy Drive,” she continued. “We couldn’t do it without their help, so we are grateful for any financial support we can get.”

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