Cash, household items needed for western neighbors

To the editor:

Three years ago we sent out a request asking if you would help us do another Indian collection of semi loads of clothing, furniture, appliances, bikes, food and also cash to be taken out to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The year before we went to the Rosebud Reservation.

Here is an update on that project. We ended the collection by filling up three semis, three trailers and three trucks filled to the brim with so many wonderful things. We couldn’t find another semi or we would have filled that up too. We had a total of 75 bikes that went with us that helped them get around so much easier. They have few cars and even less money. The look on their faces when they saw those bikes was something we will never forget. We were able to leave $1,000 in cash with the elders also. People have not stopped asking when we will do another one and so we have been making calls to those who helped us last time and now have in place three semis already, and we’re just starting.

And now the request to you asking if you would be willing to help us again on this new venture. People have come from all of our surrounding towns to give so graciously of their donations of items and cash and also to volunteer to help us load the trucks and to drive out to our distribution point. They have come from as far away as Jackson to bring a pickup load to us of needed things.

If you could have seen the look on a little 2-year-old’s face when she got a stuffed toy, probably for the first time in her tiny life, that was bigger than she was, you can’t stop the tears from falling and know how much you were able to give her such joy!

Here is where you come in and we truly hope that you will pick up the ball and run with us on this next trip. These trips are very expensive to do and, along with needing so many things to give to our neighbors to the west, we also need cash to support the project and, hopefully, have enough left over to leave with the elders to distribute as they will know best how to do for their people. You have given generously in the past and what we collect will help them in much needed ways.

Our local library (Redwood Falls), hosted a program for the “Dakota 38 +2” Indian march this winter (the Mankato hangings) when they were riding through our town for their annual trip to Mankato to honor their dead. When they were here I had a talk with one of the speakers and as a consequence, we have decided to take our semis this year to the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota where this speaker is from.

He and others will help us get our plans in place for when we arrive out there in September. By getting this information out to you now will give you the opportunity to start saving items for this fall. The collection days are set for Sept. 11 and 12 with us leaving on the 13th. Call 507-637-5108 for more information.

It is so gratifying to help out our neighbors to the West and we come away with the knowledge that we have helped the people in a very small way and only for a short time and yet, their gratitude and their joy is so very worth every minute we’ve spent doing this. Even though we cannot make everything perfect for them, we took the time to do it!

Clara Friese

Redwood Falls