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2014 Dear Santa Christmas Drive Wraps Up

By Rachel Grushan in Student News

The 2014 Christmas toy drive for the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) ends this Thursday. For the past week, Fairview students have been working their way through “Dear Santa letters” sent in by children from Eagle Butte, South Dakota. Senior Student Council members Kelly Gilbert and Natalie Wilson are heading the project this year.

Fairview students are one of the biggest contributors to the Toy Drive. Gilbert and Wilson estimate that, of the 500-600 Dear Santa letters that were sent to them, around 300-400 of which were distributed to students.

“Between last week when I put more letters in binder and just yesterday when I looked, there were a lot gone. That was really exciting to see,” said Wilson.

Eagle Butte is located in one of the nation’s 5 poorest counties, according to the CRYP website. The toys collected by the drive go directly to the youth of the community, who otherwise would receive little to no presents on Christmas.

“A lot of people are looking during the holiday season to help out the less fortunate,” said Wilson. “It’s also eye-opening for students to hear that there are these children that live on reservations that aren’t as fortunate as us, that don’t really get Christmas presents, and it’s important for us to help them out.”

Gift requests vary from expensive electronics to items most students take for granted, like bedsheets and school supplies. The letters to Santa also include a short blurb about the child, adding a level of personalization that makes the project differ from other toy drives.

“It’s really fun to connect with the kid,” said Gilbert. “A lot of toy drives, you don’t connect with the person you’re giving toys to on a personal level.”

Some children even draw pictures on their letters or describe how good they have been that year. “It’s adorable,” said Gilbert.

Student Council will “pack the truck” this Thursday during 8th period, an experience that Gilbert and Wilson describe as “chaotic” yet enjoyable.

“We have the whole assembly line down the ramps to the bottom of the school,” said Wilson. “Usually we have music playing and it’s always really fun. It’s kind of a unique experience.”

However, there is still time for Fairview students to participate- Student Council plans to receive the bulk of the gifts Thursday morning.

To find out more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project, visit http://www.lakotayouth.org.

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