As we give thanks during this week for our family and for blessings we have received, our thoughts also turn to Christmas and the season of giving - of gifts that we want to give our loved ones and what we can do for those who may have nothing for Christmas. Tuesday, November 29th has been called "Giving Tuesday." One of the gifts you can give your family is the gift of caring about other people. We have many families whose children may not get gifts for Christmas. For many they didn't get any last year either. Help us make this Christmas a happy one for these children. Whether you and your family want to purchase a toy, give money, sponsor a child, family or elder; you give a gift to your own family at the same time - the special feeling that we have helped make others happy. ~Jeri Baker
I have always believed in Santa Claus and the magic of Christmas. Every year that belief is confirmed by the "sleighs" that bring the love you share with the Lakota people. Many wonderful Christmas donations were received last year but not quite enough to go around for everyone. Six families were missed entirely. One of the mothers told me about a truck that drove around last year and was handing out blankets and other things. Stupidly I remarked, “That’s wonderful. Did you get some nice things?” She smiled and replied, “We didn’t get any. When we got there they were all gone but I saw some of the things and they looked really nice.”
Mary and her husband, John, head their household of eight including two elders and four children. Last year they had no Christmas. No warm clothes. No gifts for the children. No food for the holidays.
No one in the family has a coat (or boots). When asked what she would like for herself for Christmas this year, Mary said “I want my kids to have a Christmas.”When asked what he would like for Christmas this year, John said, “I want my kids to have a Christmas.”
There aren’t enough sweaters either, so they share. When one goes out in the frigid South Dakota cold wearing a sweater, the other stays home.
They take care of John’s parents who live with them. His mother had a bad stroke and is unable to talk or use her arms. Mary is her arms and talks for her. Mary says this wonderful elder would love a warm lap blanket and needs socks. Also her shoulders get cold so a light-weight fleece jacket or something to keep her shoulders and arms warm would be a wonderful “extra”. She is tall and thin. She probably wears a Women's Large.
Mary’s father-in-law has extreme arthritis and low vision. Mary takes care of him too. He loves popcorn and coffee and has no shoes. His shoe size is 11. He would wear a size 2XL coat.
Their oldest child is 16. They have been taking care of him since he was three years old. Eczema covers 70% of his body making his life uncomfortable with constant itching. He would love shoes to play basketball and wears a shoe size 11. His coat size is Men’s XLarge - the same size for hoodies or shirts. His pants size is 36 x 32.
Their 11-year-old daughter is shy and mature and loves basketball. She had wanted to try out for the basketball team but has no shoes for it. Her shoe size is 10. She is also trying to do yoga. She needs gloves, socks, underwear and boots as well as a coat and shoes. Her clothes size is probably an adult Large.
Their 9-year-old daughter is an outdoor type who absolutely loves to play basketball but has no sneakers for it. Mary thought her shoe size is probably 71/2 or 8. Her boot size is 8. She would wear a girl’s size 12-14 sweat shirt and sweat pants. She likes to play with Barbie dolls and enjoys fixing hair. She would like hair ties and things of that nature too.
Their 6-year-old son is disabled due to severe asthma. He panics when he gets an asthma attack at school and there is no one to help him. He loves Spiderman and art supplies, little toy cars and coloring. For a coat he wears a Ninja Turtles summer sweater that is not warm. He would wear a Child’s size 8 coat and also needs gloves, socks, underwear and pants. He really needs shoes (sneakers) and boots, she thinks a size 1 ½ or 2.
The entire family loves books. Mary said that the children love to read, that books are precious to them and that flash cards would be good too. She likes flash cards to help them with their math and reading skills. All of them would love art supplies because everyone in the family loves art. A game for the family to play together would be fun as well.
Mary requested coats for the children and a gift for each child. Although they made no requests for themselves we were able to learn that Mary needs a Women’s XL size coat and John needs a Men’s XL size coat.
There are 6 other families with similar stories in this small community. One of the families is a grandmother who is taking care of eleven of her grandchildren – all under the age of 12. She has an adult son who has no children of his own but who helps care for his nieces and nephews. Another is a couple that is caring for 6 children who needed homes.
Our gratitude and best wishes to you for a holiday season filled with love that warms your family and home.