The Cheyenne River Youth Project 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.”
There are so many ways to help CRYP with its annual Christmas Toy Drive. Many supporters choose to adopt a Dear Santa letter and fulfill that child’s precious Christmas wishes. Some coordinate local toy drives and ship the gifts to Cheyenne River. Others volunteer their time at CRYP’s Eagle Butte campus, sorting and wrapping gifts in the days leading up to the holiday. Still others make direct financial contributions—or buy raffle tickets in the hopes of winning an authentic, handmade Lakota star quilt, with all proceeds benefiting the toy drive.
“We always say that Christmas miracles really do happen on Cheyenne River,” Garreau reflected. “Every year, I’m filled up when I see how many generous, committed people, near and far, come together to bring Santa Claus to our kids.
“Our Christmas Toy Drive isn’t just about toys,” she added. “It’s about people. And it’s about love.”
If you would like to support the Christmas Toy Drive, please visit www.lakotayouth.org to make a donation or to learn more about the many ways you can help. For information about the Winter Star Quilt Raffle, or to get details about adopting a Dear Santa letter, call (605) 964-8200 or send email to Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.