Children First: Group gives time & aid to reservation families - KOTA Territory News

Children First: Group gives time & aid to reservation families

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As kids prepare to go back to school, parents are spending hundreds of dollars to get them ready.

But for some, like Tamera White Butterfly of Manderson, getting supplies is a major hassle and a major expense.

School starts for her two kids next week, and this year, there's no question they'll be ready.
 
"I don't have to worry about them ... borrowing pencils and what not," she said.
 
They'll be getting backpacks full of supplies at the beginning of the school year.
 
"They don't have to borrow from their friends or their siblings," said White Butterfly. "It's their own."
 
The backpacks delivered to the Rockyford School on Wednesday are courtesy of the Kola Foundation, a group of MBA students from the University of Illinois.
 
"We did a lot of brainstorming," said Kola president Shelly Wohadlo, "like, 'Okay, this is a community in need, this is a community we want to help. What can we do?'"
 
The answer was obvious to a bunch of students: promote education.
 
"The next generations are really what we have to look forward to step into those roles," Wohadlo said, "and with the right education, the right skills, they can make those changes for themselves in their own communities."
 
The group has a long list of plans for the next year.

Members want to create how-to videos for reservation students about business plans and college financial aid, and start a mentorship program through Skype, just to name a couple.

The backpacks just kind of fell into their laps.
 
"We had it work out that one of our alumni from the Kola Foundation is working at a company called United Stationers," she said.
 
So they got $2,500 worth of supplies for free -- enough for 150 backpacks.

The nonprofit group Re-Member coordinates projects like that with volunteer groups, the members of which number around 1,200 or 1,300 a year.

Along with fixing up houses and building beds, Re-Member tries to provide thousands of supplies-filled backpacks for families on the reservation.

"They're expensive, and where do folks and families get them around here?" said Ted Skantze, director of Re-Member. "There's not a big department store around they can just go and pick and choose."
 
"It's not only my family, but everybody on the reservation who gets a backpack," White Butterfly said. "It helps them out a lot."

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