EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. – Few days in a child’s life are as precious as his or her birthday. Unfortunately, for far too many underprivileged children, that day passes with little celebration – if any at all.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte, S.D., is working hard to make sure that the young children who attend its Billy Mills Youth Center, also known as The Main, have the birthday festivities they deserve. Each month, The Main hosts a birthday party for the children whose birthdays fall during that month.
“Our staff and volunteers decorate The Main for the party,” said Alexandra Meador, CRYP’s youth programs director, “and we organize games and activities for the kids. Every birthday child gets a little gift, and everyone enjoys a piece of birthday cake.”
She said the kids eagerly look forward to each party, whether or not they have a birthday of their own that month. The excitement among all the children makes the birthday parties especially significant for the birthday kids.
“Some of these kids have never had a birthday party at home,” Meador explained. “A few of the smaller kids aren’t even sure when their birthdays are. … they may know the month, but not the day. With the monthly parties, we can make each of those kids feel as special as they deserve to feel.”
To offset the cost of each party, CRYP seeks monthly sponsors to contribute $40 for the birthday cake. Adrianne Dana-Abet of Massachusetts – mother of former volunteer Olivia Dana –sponsored the May party. Ben Cranham of London – former volunteer and current CRYP special projects manager – is sponsoring June. Former volunteers Meret Rufener of Switzerland and Ashley Wilhelm of Ohio are co-sponsoring July, and Stephanie Good Bear of Eagle Butte will sponsor August.
“It’s quite an international affair,” noted Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “Now we’re seeking sponsors for September and beyond. We want potential contributors to know that every dollar donated to our Birthday Sponsorships Program makes such a difference in the lives of our children.”
For more information and to make a donation, call (605) 964-8200 or visit CRYP’s recently redesigned Web site. To stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, visit the youth project’s new Facebook page.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River Reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.