A Plea for Help: Pine Ridge Reservation

The 2014 holiday season has arrived and with it comes my plea for help: I’m asking you for donations for the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation.


Let me provide you with a little history: four years ago, my former high school dance coach, Joie, and her husband, Scott, founded Friends of the Lakota Nation. This is a non-profit designed to support and assist the communities on the South Dakota Native American reservations. Or, as the Norby family says, it’s all about friends helping friends.


Every December, Joie and Scott host a toy drive to provide the Pine Ridge kiddos with a happy holiday. They have created a list on Amazon where donors can purchase any number of toys for Pine Ridge. These toys are then shipped to the Norby’s home where they are wrapped and transported to Pine Ridge for the toy drive. This year’s event is the weekend of December 19 – and Will and I will be joining them in South Dakota!

Why do the kiddos on the reservation need the assistance? If you’re well-versed in American history, you’ve likely heard of Pine Ridge. However, if you’re not familiar, let me give you a cursory rundown. In short, there is an urgent need for support among the Lakota people. A few facts:

  • The Pine Ridge population has one of the shortest life expectancies of any group in the Western Hemisphere. The infant mortality rate is five times higher than the US average and the teen suicide rate is three times the US average
  • The unemployment rate on the reservation is 80-90%
  • One third of the homes do not have electricity or running water
  • Teacher turnover rate is 800% when compared to the US average and the student drop-out rate is just over 70%
  • There is little economic development on the reservation and there are no banks or discount stores. Agriculture is a developing industry, but sadly, the majority of the income does not stay on the reservation as most of the land is leased to agricultural producers


It’s clearly a dire situation on Pine Ridge, but that doesn’t mean the kiddos don’t deserve a gift for Christmas!

I learned of the non-profit back in 2012 and have donated gifts for the past two years. This year will be no exception, and I plan to do a little shopping once this post goes live. Joie and Scott compile the Amazon list, and none of the gifts are ridiculous or absurd. Joie is an English teacher so there are always books on the list, and the majority of the other toys are completely affordable: we’re talking $10 for a football or $5 for a My Little Pony.


There are a lot of trials in this world, but I can’t handle the thought of a fresh-faced little kid not receiving a single present for the holidays. If you have any extra cash this season, or can handle giving up your lattes for a morning or two, I’d like to ask for your help in donating to this non-profit. I promise to take plenty of photos to share in the kids’ excitement come December 19!

Thanks in advance guys. ‘Tis the season!

To Donate:

1. Click on this link

2. Select what you can afford and ship to the Norby family in Colorado.

3. That’s it! If shipping is too expensive, they can accept cash donations via Paypal. To do so, go to this link and click on the  “donate” button. Apparently if I link to it directly, the transaction won’t complete.



  • Reply misszippy at

    What a fantastic cause. I love that you are involved in this. The plight of the Native Americans makes me so sad. I’m in for a donation!

    Did you see the story I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the running preacher on the reservation in Montana? Go read it if you haven’t–he’s the greatest guy!

    • Reply heather at

      I read that– he sounds like an awesome person!!

  • Reply Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb at

    You know I love this =) Just placed an order.

    • Reply heather at

      Thanks Heidi 🙂

  • Reply Natalie Ford at

    I love that you do this. I was just wondering about it yesterday!

  • Reply Kovas - Midwest Multisport Life at

    That is truly a sad situation – kudos to the Norbys for doing this!

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