When you gather around the table for dinner, you may have special thanks that you give for the food you eat, or for nature that gives us the bounty on the table.
But in your list of thanks do you ever say simply, "I'm thankful to be warm"?
If you have ever been cold in your life you will know of what I speak. Most of us have had brief moments in time where we were outside too long in cold weather, and could no longer feel our toes or fingers. Some of us have been through natural disasters, like Sandy where we lost heat for a brief period of time, even stretching to weeks.
I lived for a year once in an abandoned building taken over by youthful squatters, which had no heat or running water. It was rough trying to sleep on a mattress piled high with blankets and coats, through a harsh NYC winter with only my dog for extra warmth, and I survived it. But it was my choice, and I always knew I had the privilege to go home to a toasty warm house in the suburbs with my parents. I had no children to worry about.
It wasn't until the late 1970's that I visited South Dakota and spent a brief period of time on a Lakota Reservation. It was one of the most eye-opening periods of my life. To be honest I had no idea about the conditions that Lakota people live under on the res. I was far more familiar with urban poverty. Living in the tenements or projects of NYC can be rough, but slumlords get forced to supply heat, and indoor toilets, and the projects are usually toasty warm in winter. Such was not the case on the res, where I had to use the outhouse with my hosts, and the bitter cold winds that swept in off the badlands were numbing. I learned a harsh lesson about rural poverty and the plight of my Native American brothers and sisters.
I have not forgotten.
Imagine today if you were faced with having no heat during a long winter filled with ice storms, blizzards and bone numbing sub-zero windchills. A cold that kills infants and the elders who have no heat.
As you sit wrapped in warmth, please take the time out to share your warmth with those who will not have that blessing this winter unless they have help obtaining propane.
Since winter 2009-2010, thanks to the efforts of navajo, Native American Netroots and other Kossacks, low-income Indians at three Indian reservations have received propane and heaters to deal with the often-brutal winters of South Dakota. This is our fourth season of fund raising for this project, which literally saves lives because it catches people who fall through the cracks. Some have asked why we don't run this project through a regular charity. The reason is that our contacts on the reservations say they don't see the money when there is a middleman involved. That is why this is a unique project. You can learn more about the situation at the Rosebud Reservation, read some personal stories and see photos in Aji's post here.
Here is how you can help buy propane: The fastest way to help is to pick up the phone and call with your credit-card information. A family will get propane delivered either the same day or the next day.
ROSEBUD RESERVATION CONTACT:
Telephone St. Francis Energy Co. at:They are closed today for Thanksgiving - so please call on Friday!
11 AM-6 PM MST EVERY DAY
Ask for Sherry or her mom Patsy, but others can help you also. Normally a minimum order is $150, but they have an account to accumulate small donations until they get enough for an full delivery. Credit cards welcome, and they are the only Indian-owned fuel company on the Rosebud. If you'd like to mail a check, make it payable to:
St. Francis Energy Co.
Attn: Sherry or Patsy
St. Francis Energy Co./Valandra's II
P.O. Box 140
St. Francis, South Dakota 57572
PLEASE NOTE: NOT A 501c3, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR TAX PREPARER.
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Of course, all the propane in the world won't do you any good without a heater. Many families don't even have working heaters—or ones that work safely. Every year, there are house fires as a result of malfunctioning heaters that people can't afford to repair. So if you're flush or you have a few friends who can put your dollars together, a heater would be really welcome this Thanksgiving season.
You can order a heater and the necessary accessories from Northern Tool HERE and have it shipped to:INTERNATIONAL DONORS:
St. Francis Energy Co.
120 N. Main Street
Saint Francis, SD 57572
Here's what you'll be sending:
• Mr. Heater Big Buddy™ Indoor/Outdoor Propane Heater—18,000 BTU, Model# MH18B
You also need to include these accessories:
• Mr. Heater AC Power Adapter for Big Buddy Heaters—6 Volt, Model# F276127
• Mr. Heater 12-Ft. Hose with Regulator for Item# 173635
• Mr. Heater Fuel Filter for Buddy™ Heaters, Model# F273699
Order Total of $235.85 (includes shipping)
If you live out of the country, please use our PayPal link at Native American Netroots. The donation button is in the middle right of the page. This process takes about two weeks for the funds to hit the reservation, so telephoning the propane companies directly is definitely the fastest way to help.