On Wednesday, August 19, the Cheyenne River Youth Project hosted its annual School Supplies Drive distribution in the Cokata Wiconi teen center’s gymnasium. Now, just days later, the nearly 27-year-old, not-for-profit youth project has already provided 88 families and 350 children — from Headstart through high school — with the school supplies they need to start the new school year off right.
What’s more, an additional 50 families have contacted CRYP, indicating that they weren’t able to attend the distribution but will be coming to pick up their supplies in the coming days. That means this year’s School Supplies Drive will serve another 150 to 200 children.
Much-needed supplies include backpacks, protractors, compasses, calculators, mechanical pencils, writing tablets, fat pencils, fat crayons, folders, pencil cases, notebook paper, kid-friendly scissors, erasers, glue sticks, pencils, pens and rulers. This annual distribution is part of CRYP’s Family Services program, which was founded in 2002 to manage the organization’s influx of in-kind donations throughout the year.
“Students and families who attended the distribution event last Wednesday were able to choose which supplies they wanted, and which styles and colors were their favorites,” said Tammy Eagle Hunter, CRYP’s youth programs director. “And anyone coming in after that day still will be able to take home a pre-filled backpack loaded with supplies.”
This year’s School Supplies Drive was made possible through the support of Alexandria, Virginia based Running Strong for American Indian Youth and numerous individual donors. Thanks to their generosity, CRYP was able to ensure that hundreds of children, and their families, on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation were able to enjoy the equivalent of that eagerly anticipated back-to-school shopping trip.
“Our kids want and deserve the same types of happy, exciting back-to-school experiences enjoyed by American children across the country,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “Just imagine facing that first day of school empty-handed, without the tools you need to be successful. Each year, our staff, volunteers, donors and friends work hard to make sure that our children don’t feel different or disadvantaged.
“Hundreds of our kids here on Cheyenne River are relying on us to be there for them, as we have been for so many years,” she continued. “We’re deeply grateful for the assistance we receive from around the country, because we simply couldn’t continue with our mission in the community without that support.”
To participate in CRYP distributions like the School Supplies Drive, a local family can simply join the Family Services program for a $30 membership fee. That one-time payment covers all members of that family for the entire year, and it includes all the annual distributions, from school supplies and winter clothing to the long-running Christmas Toy Drive. It also includes much-needed household supplies and baby items, as well as a heat-match program and assistance with home improvements.