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As you probably know if you clicked on this diary, the Daily Kos community supports a food pantry on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota called Okiciyap ("we help" in Lakota) the Isabel Community.

With this community's help, Okiciyap had what the director, Emily Penick, told me was the best Christmas party yet! I wanted to share some photos of that party with you, and remind you that you still have a few hours to get a tax deduction for your donation this year.

More below the fold...............

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by credit card or PayPal

Here's how they got ready for the Christmas party:

"My elves are busily wrapping presents and getting things ready for our lil Christmas party this Saturday. We will be delivering gifts to the children & elderly. Saturday we will have soup & fry bread as well at treats for the kids and SANTA will be here! Not sure what time we will start but it will be after noon because we will have Food Pantry distribution until Noon then as well as Friday from 1 to 7pm and Saturday from 9am to noon... we will deliver SOME of the presents but not all...would like everyone that lives in town to come have some soup n frybread! and bring the kids to have some munchies ."
Because a lot of people sent coats, Emily was also able to supply some to a school in Eagle Butte, where some of the children board, which was a big help because they were very short this year. Thank all you coat donors for that!
Here are some photos of the Christmas party. They had a Santa and then opened up the pantry for the kids to receive presents. They delivered others. They also served food.

These pictures are my thank you to all you donors. Look what you made possible! A beautiful thing!

These faces are just too cute!!!
Hi Santa!
2013 News

This year Okiciyap really came together as an organization. Since many of the main volunteers in the organization were members of Georgia Little Shield's family, it was particularly hard on them to pull out of their grief from her sudden death last spring and get the pantry running...but they DID it! (all the while really missing Georgia).

For much of 2013 year the pantry functioned on volunteer labor and monetary donations from THIS community (along with all the wonderful clothing, books, appliances, laptop and school supplies you've been sending). It got its food from Feeding South Dakota and a local food bank. Okiciyap also received donations of other things such as bath items and other food from National Relief Charities. Another program donated a truckload of furniture. This was all incredible, and exhausting for everyone, since they were all volunteers.

Then Okiciyap received 2 grants! One was a smaller one, a "community fund," with which they buy some of the food and conduct activities. The large one, which is only for a year but can be renewed, was for staff.  Okiciyap now has a full-time, paid director, Emily Penick; a full-time youth development coordinator, Krista Chasing Hawk; two part time tutors, Amy Renee Taylor and Charyl Boysen; and maintenance person, Charity Mitchell-Felderand.

NOW they're cooking!! This is sustainability folks!!

Your donations were also in plain evidence when navajo and I went to visit the pantry for the pow wow to honor Georgia. You can see navajo's photo rich diary about the trip here.

A couple of reminders about why we do this

With 85% of the people on the Cheyenne River Reservation being unemployed at this time of the year combined with cuts to SNAP, more people were going to go hungry this year if it weren't for the existence of Okiciyap. That's why Georgia Little Shield defined the major goal of the pantry as making sure nobody ever goes hungry ever again on her reservation. We honor her memory by raising money toward that goal.

As you can imagine, this is also part of a general trend for increasing food insecurity across the country. In 2009 to 2010, nationwide 20% of families with children had food hardship issues. You can find a good map with updated figures on the Feeding America website. American Indians and Alaska Natives are more likely to have food insecurity issues than the rest of the population. And it's worse for people living in non-metropolitan areas.

The health impacts of this, along with the other problems and structural impediments facing American Indians, are staggering:

American Indians and Alaska Natives die at higher rates than other Americans from tuberculosis (500% higher), alcoholism (514% higher), diabetes (177% higher), unintentional injuries (140% higher), homicide (92% higher) and suicide (82% higher).
Moreover, one of the things that hunger, cold, and poverty can breed is hopelessness among the youth, especially those living in families dealing with alcoholism, domestic violence and other problems. This has lead to astronomical suicide rates among the youth on many reservations, but particularly the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Reservations. When I visited Standing Rock in 2009, one of the tribal council staff told me that children were using belts to hang themselves inside their closets. So many had attempted or completed suicide that there was a campaign called, "just stand up." Ugh.

THIS is why Georgia Little Shield also wanted a youth development component in the pantry, at the very least so that kids have a safe, warm place to go after school. Their new youth program director, Krista DeAnn, also has lot of traditional knowledge to share.

I was looking at photos for this diary when I came across this one. This was the informal one they had set up in a trailer that Cindy Taylor had lent them for that purpose. If you were wondering how far they've come, a picture is truly worth...

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They're letting their little lights shine

Thank you all.


Okiciyap (we help) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, your donation should be tax deductible. Okiciyap, located on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, is working to provide a food pantry, youth center, K-12 educational support, GED & Lakota as a 2nd language class support for youth and adults. The word Okiciyap is Lakota for "we help."

Okiciyap lost its founder, Georgia Little Shield in April 2012. Georgia was instrumental in the development of the 501(3)(c) status. In early 2012, she found a building, had it moved and set up to house the food pantry and youth center. Now, the Okiciyap Board is stepping forward to insure Georgia's plans for the Isabel community move forward.

Okiciyap is registered with iGive, which means that your online purchases from participating retailers could automatically generate a donation.


The Daily Kos Fundraising for Okiciyap group was formed to support the pantry. More information is available at the Okiciyap diaries published here at Daily Kos.

Donate Directly to Okiciyap by Check:
PO Box 172
Isabel, SD 57633

Donate Stuff Directly to Okiciyap:
506 N Madison Ave
Isabel SD 57633

Books mailed to a 501c charity qualify to use the lowest rate for mailing books/media, called "library media."
 photo OkiciyapQuiltBorderBottom_zps3245b9a5.jpg
Inspiration for the header and footer banner graphics was taken from
the Daily Kos Quilt Guild's auction quilt for Okiciyap

Originally posted to Okiciyap (we help) on Tue Dec 31, 2013 at 04:59 PM PST.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing.

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