Recently 54 prom dresses were delivered to the Rosebud Indian Reservation that were donated from around the Marcus area by Nancy Hier of rural Marcus. This wasn't the first donation sent to the South Dakota Indian Reservation, as last fall a carload of blankets were given to them.
Hier attended a service last September where she heard the plea of Russell Masartis. the executive director for the Tree of Life Ministry. This ministry was started in 1985 to establish a Christian presence on the Rosebud reservation. Their situation is chronic, with deplorable conditions of most of their homes. Wanting to provide help to needy families, a small group of volunteers were organized to make repairs on the homes there in 1995. The ministry is expanding and growing the facilities there. Today one finds groups coming from 20 different states and 12 different denominations. Seven universities also offer Tree of Life as an alternative for spring break or for cultural sensitivity training.
The mission statement embraces nurturing their bodies; respect and strengthen the sovereignty, economy, culture and history of the Lakota and Dakota; the third is to embrace the spirit through recognizing and encouraging faith and belief in the work and love of the Creator. Christians go and demonstrate the message of Jesus rather than the ritual of the church. The last goal is a spiritual one; to reclaim the faith, virtues and hope of the people.
Hier commented, "The purpose is to educate them, observe change and motivate them to move on from their history." The American Indians were the focus of a study for the United Methodist Women last year. Two members of their group attended a workshop and invited Masartis to conduct a worship service last fall. That sparked the interest in giving and coordinating a work volunteer team to journey to the reservation.
This can be done by donating much needed items such as clothing and shoes for the season that are in good condition. No stained or holes or shoes that are too spent to be comfortable. Underwear (new or in excellent condition) for adults and children. Clothing can include jeans, shorts, tee shirts, blouses, skirts, maternity clothes, sweat shirts, jackets and anything else such as jewelry, billfolds and purses.
Common tools for construction are needed: measuring tapes, chalk line, vice grips, pipe wrench, building square, small level, mail punch, razor knife, flat pry bar, boxes of assorted drill bits and spade bits. Power tools such as simple 10" power miter saw, cordless drivers (minimum of 18 volts), door knobs (all kinds), new faucet sets for kitchen, bathroom and shower.
Health supplies such as hand soap, laundry soap and dish soap; shampoo and various hair products including lice shampoo, brushes and combs. Infant products for cleanliness, disposable diapers in larger sizes, baby wipes, sippee cups. Tooth paste and tooth brushes as well as denture cleanser is needed. Deodorant for men and women; razors and shaving soap; shower gel and lotion; feminine products, toilet paper, kleenex, paper towels, cleaning sponges and cleaning products, towels and wash cloths in good condition and medicine products such as aspirin children's aspirin, muscle pain relief cream and cough drops and the like.
Also school supplies are needed for four to five thousand students which includes: paper, notebooks, new backpacks, inexpensive calculators, compasses/protractors, new three-ring binders, new ball-point pens, pencils, colored pencils, markers, crayons(24), glue or glue sticks and scissors. Construction paper, art supplies, puzzles, books and coloring books for the young, good clean toys. play dough and chalk.
Houses can use pots and pans, dishes, cooking utensils, flatware, washable curtains and rods, bedding and bed pillows, childrens' furniture such as cribs, highchairs, walkers, playpens and car seats. Furniture of any kind in reasonable condition and especially beds and mattresses. Any and all kinds of wholesome food will be appreciated. Canned meats, vegetables, soups and pastas, cereals, canned fruits and so forth. Staples are needed.
It is also noted that one may donate $50- to $75 which will feed 150 people for one cooked meal.
For any questions you may have, contact Grace United Methodist Church of Marcus or Nancy Hier. One may write to: Tree of Life Ministry; 140 S. Roosevelt Rd.; P.O. 149; Mission, S.D. 57555 or call 605-856-4266. The reservation is located north of Valentine, Neb. of go west of Yankton. It is in Todd County, which is the poorest county in the U.S.