‘Tis The Season: Let’s Help Pine Ridge

If you’ve read my blog for at least a year, then you’ve heard this plea before: I’m asking for toy donations for Pine Ridge.

Now, for the backstory…

Five years ago, my former high school dance coach and her husband 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.


You see, Pine Ridge is an area known for hardships and struggles. Here is a cursory rundown:

  • 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
  • The average number of people per home in Pine Ridge is 15
  •  South Dakota Indian Reservations have 5 of the top 7 poorest per capita income counties in the United States, averaging just over $6,286 per year.

The list goes on and on, but needless to say, Pine Ridge could use some assistance. And that’s exactly what Joie and Scott do.


For the second year in a row, Will and I will be making the trip to Pine Ridge with the Norby family {and the other volunteers, I’m sure.} We are heading up there the weekend of December 4-6, and I’m happy to say that this year will be a bit more elaborate. Instead of making the entire weekend about the toy drive, Joie and Scott have decided to host a series of creative workshops!

According to stats, teens on Native American reservations commit suicide at three times the national rate and the depression stats are astronomically high. It is our hope that learning a new craft or skill will act as a coping outlet to help people deal with the darker sides of their lives. In essence, the goal is to be more sustainable in our actions.


Did I mention Will is going to be hosting a beginner photography workshop?!

Having said all of that, I am asking for your help. The toy drive is still a substantial part of the weekend and kids from all over the reservation look forward to meeting Santa. If you have any cash this holiday season or can forgo a morning latte or two, I’d appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. I sent a few gifts last week, but based on what I saw last year, hundreds of children will show up for the event—and it would be heart-breaking to send a child home without a small gift from Santa.



Our group of volunteers last year

Thank you so much in advance!


  1. Click on this link to view the toy list created on Amazon. Joie is a high school teacher and carefully selects both fun and educational gifts for the kids.
  2. Select what you can afford and ship it off to the Norby family in Colorado {their address is an option for shipping.}
  3. Once it arrives in Colorado, Joie and Scott will wrap each gift and take it with us on our trip to Pine Ridge.
  4. If shipping is too expensive or you would prefer to gift cash, you can donate through the PayPal button on the bottom right of this page.



  • Reply Lauren at

    A set of dinosaurs and a game of Clue are on their way to Colorado! Thanks for posting this – there are so many causes to support this time of year and I appreciate you taking a more in-depth approach, and providing affordable options that allow your readers to help without dropping a lot of money (since I will be making a number of donations this holiday season).

  • Reply Patrice at

    Good for you guys! Sounds like a great cause.

  • Reply Christine @ Love, Life, Surf at

    Done. Toys are headed out to Joie and Scott. Love that you and Will make this trip. and highlighting the challenges that those on the reservations face.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.