Yes, it’s early in September – the first of the month, actually – and really early for some to be thinking about Christmas shopping. I used to think about the gifts all year long so I wouldn’t be jammed up the week before. But now the kids are grown and I am trying to get the parents to understand that they don’t need to buy us all multiple gifts with money they really can’t afford to spend. Besides, there’s nothing we need.
The kids that go through the Cangleska shelter for abused women and their families, however, have many needs. One of the rez support groups that I belong to has an annual Christmas gift drive for them. I’m hoping that anyone who reads this post will check their website ( www.friendsofpineridge.org ) and find it in his/her heart to donate a least one gift to this drive.
Life on the rez is very hard for many. As in any community, there are some who are better off than others. But the ones who are not better off are really not better off. I have visited on the rez. I have been in a home where the only thing that kept the front door closed was a dish towel stuffed between the door and the frame. I have been in a mobile home with rotting stairs and a hole in the floor right inside the entry door. I have seen the mattresses on the floor because there are no beds. I have seen that a three bedroom ranch house can be home to 10 or more people.
I have also seen the joy on children’s faces when they received their Christmas presents. They don’t know whether their parents saved all year for those few gifts or whether they used one of those “payday advance” loan services that charge exhorbitant fees so they would have some money for their children. I’m talking here about children who are living in a home with parents or grandparents.
The children at Cangleska are not that fortunate. They have escaped from a home where there was domestic abuse and violence. They know that their mothers love them, because they have taken them out of dangerous situations. But their mothers have left everything behind because that’s what any woman escaping an abusive relationship does. Often these mothers show up at the shelter with their children and the clothing on their backs. They must rely on the kindness of strangers to begin a new life.
Cangleska not only helps these families in their immediate need, but also helps them as they move back out into the world. The organization helps families set up new homes, usually from scratch. They continue to work with these “at risk” families long after they have left the shelter, itself. The outreach program and shelter provides for over 1000 children, from infants to teens. That’s quite a task! Cangleska, Inc is not funded by the tribe but is incorporated as an independent non-profit agency (501(3)(c)). It is a success story but they certainly need additional support. And if it’s important, your gift is tax-deductible.
Personally, I think the important think is letting a child know at Christmas that even when your life is crazy, mixed-up, upside down, there is someone who cares.
The goals this year are lofty, as they were last year. We met those goals. I hope some of you will decide to help us exceed those goals this year.
- Ages 0 to 3: 200 boys and 200 girls
- Ages 4 to 6: 200 boys and 200 girls
- Ages 7 to 10: 75 boys and 75 girls
- Ages 11 to 14: 25 boys and 25 girls
- Ages 15 to 17: 25 boys and 25 girls
If you do decide to share your love with a child at Cangleska, PLEASE – DONATE NEW TOYS AND BOOKS ONLY, RATHER THAN CLOTHING, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF INFANTS, WHO NEED CLOTHING AND DISPOSABLE DIAPERS. ONE OTHER DIRE NEED: ATHLETIC SHOES FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES FROM TODDLER TO TEEN.
There are times when gently used items are just fine. But for Christmas, everyone deserves something new that is meant just for the receiver. After all, the point of Christmas is that we were given a brand new kind of gift that was special to each of us with the birth of the Christ Child.
If you donate, please be sure to e-mail the FoPRR website and let the moderator know the number of gifts being donated and which age/gender group(s) they’re for. You can give your name or you can give anonymously – your choice.
There is one other thing they need with all these Christmas gifts. Lots and lots and lots of Christmas wrapping supplies – paper, tape, gift tags, gift boxes, tissue paper, stickers – you know, the stuff you use without even thinking about it. A not-for-profit agency has to think about it – there are many places for those dollars to go.
Gifts sent for the Christmas gift drive should have a note in the package letting the staff know that they are for the Christmas gift drive. If you order by internet, try to include that note on the gift card. They way the staff will know to store it in a separate place from any general donations that come in – thank God they have that new shelter with the additional storage space.
If you can’t afford a gift but would like to help these children, one thing you can do is add a signature line to your e-mail. A suggestion would be:
Send a 2007 Christmas gift to a Native American child!
The website has the mailing addresses – they are different depending on whether you are shipping by US mail (always a P.O. Box on the rez) or a shipping company (like UPS or FedEx, which need street addresses). Funny thing – there are no real street names on the rez. Organizations have made up street names. Those shipping companies need the street address on the sending end. The guys who actually deliver at the rez know where everything is and don’t need street addresses. One of the little quirks of rez life.
There is also a huge list of ideas for gifts on the FoPRR website and you can see the progress we’re making toward our goals.
If you have questions about rez life, I would be happy to try to answer them if I can. I don’t claim to be an expert but I have actually been there. It’s not all just what I read in a book. And I do have friends there – well actually, they’ve recently moved off the rez and into Rapid City. But they still have stories. In fact, we’re planning to go visit them in about 6 weeks. I can’t wait!
Time to start checking out the online websites – see if I can find some that have free shipping (always a good thing!) I can hear those sleigh bells now . . . on Donner, on Blitzen!
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!