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School Supplies Drive Helps Hundreds of Native American Children

Native American students receive school supplies from the Cheyenne River Youth Project.
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Backpacks overflowing with school supplies were recently given out by the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) in Eagle Butte, South Dakota to about 450 students on the Cheyenne River Reservation.

“It was a really busy day,” Tamara LaPlante, CRYP’s office manager, said of the August 17 distribution. “The best part was that we could see the joy on the kids’ faces as they chose what they needed. They were so excited.”

The amount of school supplies needed for any grade level at the beginning of the school year is staggering. Things like backpacks, pencils, calculators, crayons, folders, notebooks, paper, glue, rulers, pens and protractors were given out at the drive.

“It’s easy to underestimate the importance of school supplies when you look at some of the other issues our kids on Cheyenne River face, but just think of your own first day of school,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, in a press release. “In a child’s world, that is a huge day, and every kid wants to be the same as the other kids—to go to school with everything he or she needs. So we want to make sure that first day is a happy day for our children, and that they start a new school year with the tools they need to be successful.”

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The supplies drive is part of CRYP’s Family Services Program—created in 2002—which any local family can join for a $30 annual fee.

“For that $30, a Cheyenne River family can participate in all of our Family Services distributions, from the school supplies, winter clothing and shoes drives to our long-running Christmas Toy Drive,” Garreau explained. “They also can pick up needed household supplies, including baby items, on a regular basis and can receive heating and home-improvement assistance.”