|Sent on:||Sunday, February 17, 2013 11:06 AM|
Probably everyone reading this letter has gone through a lot this past month. The only other times that have felt this difficult since we started coming together is when one of us has been ill or when a close friend or family member has passed on. This letter was written before the difficulties became apparent to all. It's good to look back and remember good times... we have shared so many. (All of the people who have been on prior email lists have been mailed individually, so you may not see their names here. If you think I may have missed someone, please let me know or feel free to forward this along. Thanks!)
As we look back, a little over a month ago we were collecting items you and others contributed towards the community of Kyle, South Dakota.
After weeks of deliveries everyone made to Dan’s garage, days of sorting and consolidating nearly the entire collection, then hours of packing, we were off! Dan and Tom paired up in a cargo van boom box in lap. Dennis drove his trusty man-wheels, U-haul in tow, with Greg and Ximena as the lighter portions of cargo. Thanks to your generosity, we were packed full!
Rogers Park Montessori collected much more food than in any year past. Coupled with a donation made by a grocer we think we took out maybe a couple thousand of pounds of food. People in the community brought in hundreds of coats through collections in their networks. Others brought car loads of donations and bags of newly wrapped gifts. Someone even baked about 25 tins of cookies, ALL of which made it to Ed’s! There were toys, clothes, books, new quality winter coats... even a Harley-Davidson rocking motorcycle! (Yes, that made it to Ed’s too. He loves it and rides it every weekend!)
The weather was favorable. When we arrived in Kadoka, we knew we were the happiest people in town! A flat tire gave us an unexpected couple of hours there!
One morning while we were unloading clothing and food at the Community Action Program (CAP) Building, one of the men who works there was helping unload the vans. He remained attentive to his work and there was not too much interaction. Shortly after the vans were unloaded, as part of a casual conversation about other donations we had yet to deliver, the Big Foot Memorial Ride was mentioned. The Ride is an annual horseback ride to honor those who were at the tragic 1890 incident at Wounded Knee, and to uplift the lives of the people today. Immediately this same man shifted his posture and disposition. He shared that he had relatives participating in the Ride. In his posture and voice there was a good feeling for his people, his culture and an appreciation of our respect of the Ride. What moments ago may have seemed to be a donation of things, showed itself to be a sharing that elevates the spirit.
As you know, Ray Takes War Bonnet passed on in autumn. Through Ed, we were able to get a list of Ray’s grandchildren. With the piles of new clothing and toys scattered around Ed’s living room and hallway, we were able to put together a gift bag for each of them.
We also brought some of the collection of coats and clothing to Ray’s house to share with the housing community where Ray’s family lives, a few miles outside of Kyle. Ray’s daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren helped us unload the vans. Right away the three grandchildren (ages 2-5) began crawling and jumping on the huge piles of bags saying, “Remember when we did this before?” In the autumn, with Ray, we had filled the entire living room with donations for that part of the community.
We had a day in Rapid and met Don and Suzanne at the Golden Corral. (Honestly, we are pretty sure Don is the only one who managed to get a donut from Jerry’s the whole time we were there!!!)
Vincent from France arrived with Don and Suzanne at Ed’s Saturday night. Really amazing that after a lodge and dinner, he woke up in his jet-lagged state, (maybe not yet sure of where he was) to bid us a good journey as we packed up for Chicago at 4:30 the following morning!
After we left Don and Suzanne bravely took over where we left off so things could be delivered to Jamie, Ed’s daughter. Jamie would then pass the donations along to the families we collected for in Rapid.
Along with the collection described here, throughout the year there have been propane tanks filled, electricity bills paid, and other tremendous efforts to help families out there who are going through very steep challenges. This has taken effort by various individuals and a web of support through our work together.
Enclosed you will find some photographs we hope you will enjoy and a letter to share with the people in your lives who have made this collection possible. Please take some time to reflect on the people who, through you, were a part of this year’s collection and pass along the PDF attached.
Those of you who worked with special groups will receive a letter directed to your organization. If you do not receive such a letter and feel we may have over looked your group, we apologize and appreciate your reminder! Please let us know immediately so we can take care of this.
Ed asked to say “Hau” to everyone and to tell you that because of all the coffee donated to the Big Foot Ride, the Natives haven’t slept yet!
Wopila! Mitakuye Oyasin!