From left to right: Helen Bush ’11, Abby Weingarten ‘11, Felipe Moretti ’12, and Nick Kanney ’11 organize donated coats (photo courtesy Abby Weingarten)
The icy winter wind whipped flurries of snow across the vast expanse of South Dakota’s gently rolling hills. The Great Plains region of the United States, thanks to its inland geographic location, is notorious for its harsh and unpredictable climate. For the Oglala Lakota living on the Pine Ridge Reservation, winter can be an especially difficult season.
Located in the southwestern part of South Dakota at the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre, the reservation is the second-poorest county in the United States. What many of the reservation’s residents call “home” is typically an overcrowded, dilapidated trailer or house with neither adequate heat nor electricity. So when the temperature drops below zero and winter storms ensue, some families find themselves trapped by deep drifts of snow. A few years ago, the organization Re-member received an urgent call for help from a family living in a remote part of Pine Ridge whose generator, their only source of power, had just expired. They were without blankets and proper clothing. The crew struggled to navigate through roads of unplowed snow. When the crew reached the house, the entire family had frozen to death.
We at the SHS club Pine Ridge Reservation Aid work to raise awareness about and take steps toward addressing the extreme poverty on the Lakota reservation.
With winter just around the corner, we are now conducting a coat drive through October 16. The club is collecting new and gently used winter clothing items, ranging from coats, hats, and gloves to snow suits and boots in infant through teen sizes. Extra donations such as books for elementary- and high-school-aged kids as well as small non-battery-operated toys are welcome. Collection boxes are located at both the Post Road and Brewster Road entrances.
We hope that you are eager to support our cause with a donation. Because who knows? A single coat or pair of gloves could save a pair of hands or even a life. But one thing is certain: whatever you donate will be appreciated and bring happiness to Lakota children and their families on the Pine Ridge Reservation. As SHS alumna and founder of Lakota Pine Ridge Children’s Enrichment Project Maggie Dunne ’09 so aptly said, “We cannot stand in the shoes of the Oglala Lakota, the survivors of a series of historical and continuing injustices, but we can provide them with assistance and we can stand beside them to help strengthen their voice.”
For more information about PRRA and how you can get involved, please contact co-Presidents Abby Weingarten (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Helen Bush (email@example.com).
By Helen Bush ’11 and Abby Weingarten ’11
Co-Presidents, Pine Ridge Reservation Aid