- Written by Administrator
- Published: 12 June 2013
When she saw a news report on an extremely impoverished Native American reservation in South Dakota, one incoming Duxbury High School senior decided to take matters into her own hands and make a difference in the lives of the reservation’s children.
Current DHS junior Amandalyn McLellan was watching the nightly news with her parents about a year ago when a segment aired about a very poor, oft-neglected Native American reservation in Shannon County, South Dakota.
Pine Ridge Reservation, home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe, spans 2,000,000 acres and has an estimated population of 40,000. The unemployment rate is over 80 percent on the reservation, compared to a nationwide rate of 10 percent. Nearly 49 percent of the residents on the reservation live below the federal poverty level, 61 percent of which are children under 18. The per capita income on the reservation is $6,286. The infant mortality rate is five times higher than the national average. The life expectancy for females is 52 and 48 for males.
Deeply affected by the information in the newscast, McLellan decided to start a fundraiser to collect supplies for the reservation. When she started school last September, McLellan approached the faculty advisor for the African Service Project at the high school and expressed her interest in collecting baby formula, food and school supplies.
After the success with the initial fundraiser, McLellan got in touch with the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation and asked them what was most needed. She was told that many, if not most, of the children on the reservation who are currently in foster care have never had a new pair of shoes. With a closet full of shoes at home, McLellan said she was shocked.
“There are over 350 children in foster care on the res- ervation right now,” McLellan said. “I have never been able to get them off my mind. I can’t even imagine not ever having one new pair of shoes.”
Compelled to help the foster children, McLellan decided to hold a yard sale fundraiser. McLellan contacted First Parish Church to reserve space for the yard sale. The fundraiser welcomes anyone to donate items to be sold at the yard sale. The money collected from the yard sale, plus any donations, will be used to purchase sturdy, all-weather shoes for toddlers through preteens who are in foster care.
“Having shoes is something we all take for granted,” she said. “Imagine walking around in winter with no shoes on. I can’t fathom it. We are looking to spend about $10 per pair of shoes and are looking into possibly getting some sort of reduced cost on the shoes for charity.”
A newly elected member of the National Honor Society, McLellan said she has a lot of support with the fundraiser both at home and at school and hopes, if this event is successful, to start a club at the high school to continue helping children at the reservation. She said she has recruited some of her “artsy friends” to help out at the fundraiser with face painting and has invited her NHS peers to do some of their community service hours at the yard sale.
“The people at the reservation are so excited that we are doing this event,” McLellan said. “People have always said we are too young to make a difference. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you are never too young to make a difference.”