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January 26, 2013 09:51 PM

Coats Bring Warmth To Pine Ridge

Pine Ridge, SD

With the drop in temperatures, kids across KELOLAND have had to bundle up before heading outside. It's an easy comfort to take for granted.

For many youngsters, warm winter clothes are hard to come by.  That's the case on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, but a young California boy and his class are working to change that.

On a cold, January morning, there's a special delivery of five boxes to a Pine Ridge youth and family center. The boxes contain kids coats of all sizes and colors.  It's the result of a drive started by an 11-year old boy who has never set foot on the reservation.

"Today is the end result of the drive and initiative of my adopted little nephew, Liam McKenna," Joe RedCloud said, upon delivering the coats.

Liam lives in Burbank, California and decided that he had to do something once he heard about the hardships people face in Pine Ridge.

"Liam had seen some TV footage of conditions on this reservation and he asked what do we need. And the first thing I could think of off the top of my head is warm coats," RedCloud said.

"Some of the children would come in here when it was real cold and just have a hoodie on," Tribal Family Developer Annabelle Black Bear said.

The young philanthropist began the project with the goal of collecting 75 kids coats.  But with some help from his classmates, McKenna was able to send around 150 of the much-needed coats to the reservation.

"We have a lot of jackets for toddlers, but for the older children, as soon as we get them we give them out," Black Bear said.

The warmth of a coat isn't the only gift that was delivered in the boxes from California.  The thoughtful actions of children thousands of miles away give the people here hope.

"We need to see the world through a child's eyes sometimes," Black Bear said.

"It doesn't matter where in the country you're from, what your ethnic background may be, what your socioeconomic is.  It's kids helping kids," RedCloud said.

If you want to help kids in Pine Ridge, follow this link to various organizations on the reservation.

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