Although summer fun remains in full swing, the beginning of August marks the countdown to the start of a new school year—and that means the staff and volunteers at the Cheyenne River Youth Project are hard at work on their annual 2014 School Supplies Drive. As it has throughout its 25-year history, the grassroots, not-for-profit youth organization will distribute much-needed school supplies to community schoolchildren prior to Labor Day weekend.
“For us, the school year is right around the corner,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “These last weeks are critical for us as we gather all the donated supplies, purchase additional items with contributed funds, and then host the actual distribution at our Cokata Wiconi Teen Center in Eagle Butte, South Dakota.
“This year, we’re celebrating 25 years of supporting Cheyenne River children as they head back to school,” she added. “We encourage all of our friends and supporters around the country, and around the world, to join with us as we seek to serve more kids than ever before.”
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 that $30, a Cheyenne River family can participate in all of our Family Services distributions, from the school supplies, winter clothing and shoes drives to our long-running Christmas Toy Drive,” Garreau explained. “They also can pick up needed household supplies, including baby items, on a regular basis and can receive heating and home-improvement assistance.”
Those who have current Family Services memberships will receive invitations for their children to attend the School Supplies Drive distribution in late August. If a family does not have a membership but is interested in obtaining one, simply call the CRYP administrative office at 605-964-8200. All children must have invitations to receive their new school supplies.
Last year, 530 children on the Cheyenne River reservation picked up their eagerly anticipated supplies at the scheduled August distribution, and in the days and weeks to follow, at CRYP’s Cokata Wiconi Teen Center.
“If some kids can’t make it to the distribution or are new to our community, we make sure we have plenty of the items that we feel will be most important, and we continue to distribute them after the distribution has taken place,” Garreau explained.
“The goal of our Family Services program is to make life a bit easier for our kids by helping their family members,” she continued. “Many families simply don’t have room in their tight budgets to purchase school supplies, so we want to do our part to help their children be ready for the first day of school. They should enjoy the same joy and anticipation as kids anywhere.”
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 friends and supporters around the country, and even around the world,” Garreau said. “We know we’re going to have 500 or 600 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 2014 School Supplies drive, please send in-kind donations: backpacks for grades 1-12, protractors, compasses, calculators, mechanical pencils, writing tablets for preschoolers and kindergartners, regular and colored pencils, crayons, markers, folders, pencil cases, notebook paper, kid-friendly scissors, erasers, glue sticks, pencils, pens and rulers. Fat crayons and fat pencils also would be greatly appreciated for our younger schoolchildren.
Contributors also may send funds, which the staff will use to purchase any additional items needed.
“We’re asking our supporters to please send their contributions no later than Wednesday, August 20,” Garreau said. “We need time to organize the supplies and get ready for hundreds of excited children!”
In-kind donations and checks may be sent to: Cheyenne River Youth Project, East Lincoln St., P.O. Box 410, Eagle Butte, SD 57625. To donate online, visit Lakota Youth.org and click “Help CRYP.”
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call 605-964-8200 or visit Lakota Youth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.