Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation Shares Christmas with Pine Ridge Children
Just outside of the door, giant candy canes stand tall, while multi-colored Christmas lights welcome guests with a soothing glow. Holiday music plays softly, filling the crisp morning air. Inside, row upon row of colorful, hand-decorated sacks line the floor, and toys of all kinds stand against walls and in corners – waiting to be delivered to deserving children. This was the scene recently at the Laughing Water Restaurant inside the Crazy Horse Memorial complex. A similar scene has played out every year for the last twenty-five years at Crazy Horse Memorial.
The Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, has been giving Lakota children at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Boarding School Christmas gifts each year since 1988. Each year, contributions from the family of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, and friends and supporters of Crazy Horse Memorial make the Pine Ridge Christmas initiative possible and allow for the purchase of gifts for 100-150 boys and girls in kindergarten through high school.
Gifts, which fill bags that have been meticulously hand-decorated by Crazy Horse staff members, include dolls, coats, remote-control cars, basketballs, and volley balls. In addition to specially-requested gifts, each bag contains several other items that are sure to prompt appreciative smiles from the students. Some specially-requested gifts, like skate-boards and bicycles that are just too big to fit in the bags, stand in the Crazy Horse Memorial visitor’s center awaiting delivery.
Jadwiga Ziolkowski, Korczak and Ruth’s daughter and fourth child, coordinates the Crazy Horse Christmas fund and gift collection. In this role, she receives the requests from the children, shops for all of the gifts, and sees that each student has a personalized gift bag that contains at least one of the items that the child has requested. For years, before going away to college, Jadwiga’s children helped shop, create and fill the bags, and prepare for the event – just one example of how this initiative has always emphasized the spirit of family, giving, and helping others. As Mrs. Ruth Ziolkowski, CEO of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, explains, “When many families are struggling just to put food on the table, let alone be able to have any kind of gift for the children in these tough economic times, we are especially anxious to help.”
Staff members from the Pine Ridge Boarding School arrived at Crazy Horse on Monday, December 16th, to pick up the gifts and share a meal with members of the Ziolkowski family. The gifts will be distributed at the annual Pine Ridge Boarding School Christmas party, where many of the students’ families will be in attendance.
Tags: Christmas gift drive, Crazy Horse Memorial