Update: This is an old post, but for the most part the information is all relevant. Donations are still needed. Please feel free to email me about donating. My contact info is at the bottom.
I’ve been thinking that I need to get out there and find a community in desperate need of books. So here’s the story:
I grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Pine Ridge Reservation is a short drive away. I went to school with kids whose parents were still on the reservation all through out my school years. I knew that they had it hard out there. I knew they struggled and that life was bleak. I also remember when my friend Raymond came over to my house he was in awe over all my books.
So when I saw a website where they were asking for donations for a family (diapers, etc) in Pine Ridge, it clicked in my head. I had just found who needed me, needed us. Our help. I had just drove through there a couple weeks ago and had thought about them and wished I could find a way to help them. Just something to cheer them up, give them hope and something to wile away the time. I had forgotten about it though. It just slipped my mind. So when it came back to me it was like it was meant to be.
Here are some facts:
Pine Ridge is an Oglala Sioux Native American reservation. It’s the eighth largest reservation (according to Wikipedia though I found other sources that said second largest) in the US. It’s larger then Delaware and Rhode Island combined. It is within the boundaries of Shannon and Jackson counties which are two of the poorest counties in the US. According to a study by Colorado State University it’s estimated the resident population at 28,787.
Pine Ridge is not only the eighth largest reservation in the US but it is the poorest. Unemployment is between 80-85% and 97% are below poverty level. Teen suicide is four times the national average. Many families have no electricity, phone, running water or sewer.
Pine Ridge has the shortest life expectancy out of any group in the Western Hemisphere. That is an average of 47 years for males and 52 years old for females. The infant mortality rate is five times the US national average.
School drop out rate is over 70%. The schools are in the bottom 10% in school funding. Teacher turn over is 800% that of the US national average.
Most live in rural and isolated areas. There are few paved roads and most rural homes are inaccessible during rain or snow. The weather is extreme. Severe winds, and bitter cold that can reach -50*F (I remember one winter was -60*F). Summers temperatures reach over 110*F.
There are no banks, discount stores, movie theaters. There is only one grocery store of moderate size and it is in Pine Ridge. There are NO PUBLIC LIBRARIES except the ONE at Oglala Lakota College.
Now imagine living in an area that vast and there only being a college library? Most people don’t have access to a vehicle so many live a very long ways from any of the branches.
Fortunately the one library has a program running for the summer called the Build Your Own Library Project. They deliver books to each community. It’s mainly about providing books to the children, but they also provide books for the adults who bring the children. LaVera is the wonderful librarian who I’ve been communicating with. She’s assured me that they need books for all ages. She also says “The Build Your Own Library Project is our vehicle for book distribution during the summer months but we also deliver to our district branch libraries on a bi-weekly basis year round. In addition, we have delivered books to the juvenile detention center, senior citizen centers, and other places when the resources are available.”
Please email me at candace_redinger(at)yahoo(dot)com for any information and shipping info.