EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. — For the past 33 years, the Cheyenne River Youth Project has held a toy drive for children across the Cheyenne River Reservation. They center the gift-giving around the winter solstice, which the Youth Project refers to as the “Moon of Giving Away Presents,” or Wo Otúhan Wi.
Partnering with supporters across the United States, they gather “Dear Santa” letters to provide gifts for more than 1,500 children across the reservation.
“We just have all these partners and people will adopt letters, and then what we try to do is give every child that writes us a letter at least four gifts: something they really, really want, something a little bit smaller…we’ll probably give them some clothing or a coat or something like that, and then maybe some art supplies or school supplies,” says Julie Garreau, founder and executive director of the Cheyenne River Youth Project.
Even though many in the indigenous community don’t celebrate a Christian Christmas, Garreau says that it’s important to let these kids know they’re remembered.
“It makes us feel good, because every kid should wake up to a gift during this period of time – even if [it’s just] one thing,” Garreau adds.
CLICK HERE for more information about how you can get involved with the 2021 toy drive.