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volunteering

WE NEED YOU: Volunteer Positions Available Immediately

As summer draws to a close, staff members at the Cheyenne River Youth Project® are facing a critical shortage: volunteers. In late August and into the fall months, CRYP needs to staff its Main youth center and Cokata Wiconi teen center, operate the Keya Cafe and Keya Gift Shop, stage the weekly Leading Lady Farmers Market, manage Family Services distributions, and harvest the Winyan Toka Win garden; its staff is simply too small to manage the entire East Lincoln Street campus without volunteer support.

Most people may not be aware that CRYP relies heavily on volunteer support to keep its doors open, its programs running, and its services flowing to the Cheyenne River community.

“In the beginning, it likely was more obvious,” said Tammy Eagle Hunter, CRYP’s youth programs director. “When the youth project began in 1988 in a run-down former bar on Main Street, it was 100-percent volunteer-run. Although we’ve expanded to include The Main, Cokata Wiconi, Family Services, Winyan Toka Win garden, Keya Cafe and Coffeeshop, Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park, and full-time staff, we still depend on volunteer support. We simply couldn’t continue with our mission in the community without our volunteers.”

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    2015 College Night Series Begins Tuesday, March 3 with the University of South Dakota

2015 College Night Series Begins Tuesday, March 3 with the University of South Dakota

On Tuesday, March 3, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® officially kicks off its annual springtime College Night Series, which allows visiting “Alternative Spring Break” volunteer groups from schools around the country to help educate local teens about applying for and attending college. Now in its ninth year, the College Night Series will gear up next week with a presentation from the University of South Dakota.

The free evening program will take place on Tuesday at 5-6 p.m. at CRYP’s Cokata Wiconi teen center, and CRYP staff members encourage Cheyenne River middle- and high-school students to bring their parents and other family members. Attending tweens and teens will have an opportunity to earn special incentives and win door prizes, and CRYP will provide refreshments.

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    2014 Christmas Toy Drive Serves 1,350 Children in 20 Communities

2014 Christmas Toy Drive Serves 1,350 Children in 20 Communities

In partnership with a broad range of individuals, schools, businesses and nonprofit organizations, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® was once again able to bring Santa Claus to South Dakota’s 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation during the 2014 holiday season. (Check out our video here!)

Thanks to the overwhelming support of these invaluable partners, not to mention the hard work and dedication of a small army of volunteers, CRYP’s 2014 Christmas Toy Drive served 1,350 children in 20 communities. Their “Dear Santa” letters came from 325 families, regular attendees at CRYP’s Cokata Wiconi teen center and The Main youth center, and children who live in local shelters and foster care.

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300 “Dear Santa” Letters Remain to be Adopted!

Christmas is a little more than two weeks away, which means CRYP staff and volunteers are in the home stretch for the 2014 Christmas Toy Drive. It’s not too late to help: The 26-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization is reporting that approximately 300 “Dear Santa” letters remain to be adopted so it can meet its goal of making Christmas wishes come true for 1,500 children across South Dakota’s remote Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

“Those who are interested in being part of this year’s Christmas Toy Drive simply need to contact us to get their ‘Dear Santa’ letters,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “Or, if they would prefer to contribute funds, they can donate via our website or Crowdrise campaign. Then we’ll do the shopping on our end.”

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400+ Christmas Toy Drive Letters Still Need Good Homes!

It’s the last week of November, and that means the staff and volunteers at the Cheyenne River Youth Project® have just four weeks to fulfill the Christmas wishes of 1,500 children on South Dakota’s remote, 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. More than 1,000 letters have already been adopted by generous supporters, yet more remains to be done.

“We still have more than 400 ‘Dear Santa’ letters that need to be adopted,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “That means we still need to take care of 400 children who wrote heartfelt letters in the hope that this Christmas would be filled with hope, joy, and a little magic.

“Supporters who wish to join our Christmas Toy Drive efforts can contact us directly to get their Santa letters,” she continued. “Or, if they would prefer to contribute funds, they can donate via our website or Crowdrise campaign (see sidebar), and we’re more than happy to do the shopping on our end to make sure Santa comes to these deserving kids.”

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    Coming Up: Christmas Craft Fair on Nov. 16, Youth Holiday Parties on Dec. 4-5

Coming Up: Christmas Craft Fair on Nov. 16, Youth Holiday Parties on Dec. 4-5

November is here, and that means the staff and volunteers at Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, are deep into holiday preparations. Not only are they undertaking the gargantuan task of ensuring that Santa Claus comes to 1,500 children across the 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River reservation, they are planning the youth project’s 4th annual Christmas Craft Fair and its eagerly anticipated holiday parties for children and teens.

The 4th annual Christmas Craft Fair is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 16 at CRYP’s Cokata Wiconi (“Center of Life”) teen center. Cheyenne River artists, vendors, craftspeople, chefs, and bakers should contact the youth project immediately to reserve their spots.

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Volunteer with CRYP in 2015!

As the year winds down, staff members at the Cheyenne River Youth Project® have two major endeavors on their minds. One is the annual Christmas Toy Drive, a mammoth undertaking that brings holiday cheer to more than 1,200 children across the 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota’s remote West River country. The other is no less gargantuan: recruiting enough volunteers to keep the youth project’s East Lincoln Street campus running throughout the new year.

Most people may not be aware that CRYP relies heavily on volunteer support to keep its doors open, its programs running, and its services flowing to the Cheyenne River community.

“In the beginning, it likely was more obvious,” said Tammy Eagle Hunter, CRYP’s youth programs director. “When the youth project began in 1988 in a run-down former bar on Main Street, it was 100-percent volunteer-run. Although we’ve expanded to include The Main youth center, Cokata Wiconi teen center, Family Services, Winyan Toka Win garden, Keya Cafe and Coffeeshop, and full-time staff, we still depend on volunteer support. We simply couldn’t continue with our mission in the community without our volunteers.”

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    The 2014 Christmas Toy Drive is Under Way, with Goal of Serving 1,500 Children This Year

The 2014 Christmas Toy Drive is Under Way, with Goal of Serving 1,500 Children This Year

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays, turning Christmas into a high-stress occasion. Yet this day should be so much more; as an anonymous sage once noted, “Rejoice in the spirit of Christmas which is Peace, the miracle of Christmas which is Hope, and the heart of Christmas which is Love.”

Real Christmas miracles can happen, bringing hope to those who need it most, particularly children. Look no farther than the remote Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in north-central South Dakota. While Christmas should be a glorious holiday for children everywhere, families here simply cannot stretch their budgets to cover holiday gifts. This is one of the poorest regions in the United States, with an unemployment rate hovering around 75 percent, and roughly 60 percent of households with children under the age of 18 falling below the poverty level.

That means far too many deserving children likely would have no Christmas at all, on a day that should be full of such shining promise — if it weren’t for the Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte. Last year, this grassroots, not-for-profit youth organization made sure that 1,200 children in 19 reservation communities received personalized gifts from their “Dear Santa” letters, as well as much-needed winter clothing. This year, it hopes to serve 1,500.

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2014 Christmas Toy Drive: How to Help

There are several ways you can help CRYP reach its goal of serving 1,500 children during the 2014 Christmas Toy Drive, from donating funds and toys, to sponsoring a “Dear Santa” letter, to providing supplies, to volunteering your time.

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    Junior Volunteers Attend 2014 UNITY Conference in Portland, Oregon

Junior Volunteers Attend 2014 UNITY Conference in Portland, Oregon

Earlier this summer, five Cheyenne River Sioux teens had the opportunity to join more than 1,400 native youth ages 14 to 24 from around the United States at the 38th annual National UNITY Conference. This year’s conference, held June 28 to July 2 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, focused on “Healing and Empowering Aspiring Leaders with Tradition and Heritage.”

The National UNITY Council, comprising youth representatives from affiliated youth councils, hosted the event and developed the packed five-day agenda. After the ceremonial lighting of the UNITY Fire, attendees plunged into leadership development through educational keynotes, activities, and workshops.Representing Cheyenne River were Elijah Brown Wolf, Kipp Reddog, Snowy Fire Cloud, Justice Fire Cloud, and Warren Swan, all participants in the Cheyenne River Youth Project®’s Junior Volunteer Program. A sixth junior volunteer, Selena Swan, elected to attend the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduates Program (GEARUP) in Rapid City, South Dakota, but she will continue with the CRYP youth leadership program this fall.

The students’ trip to the National UNITY Conference was funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), which provides national leadership, coordination, and resources to prevent and respond to juvenile delinquency and victimization. According to Jerica Widow-Rivers, youth programs assistant, the trip was a major milestone for Cheyenne River’s junior volunteers.

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