Local shop owner’s donation to less fortunate students gives comfort

By : 
Jordan Gerard

Out of the six poorest counties in the U.S., four of them are in South Dakota, including one school with 333 kids who each have a need for bathrobes and a new pair of socks.

That’s where Lynn Rostad-Anderson stepped in. While volunteering on different reservations, two charities “caught her heart.”

So she asked what they needed for their kids. They needed bathrobes. She put out a call for donations on Facebook and collected them at her shop in Spring Grove, Turquoise Tomato.

Then they had a need for socks and school supplies, and again, Rostad-Anderson received many donations and delivered them to St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota.

“I just feel [for] the kids,” she said. “They have no control over their life, and they shouldn’t have to suffer for adults’ mistakes.”

To the north of Chamberlain are the Crow Creek Reservation and Lower Brule Sioux Reservation. Both are poor economically and considered some of the poorest in the U.S.

Though it’s not true for all reservations in the U.S., as some do economically well from casinos built on the reservations, some reservations or people living there don’t receive profits from the casinos based on a few factors.

The first is that people need to be 99 percent indigenous and able to prove it and then register themselves, due to previous laws. There are also certain tribes that don’t qualify. 

And in South Dakota, those casinos function, but they’re not as large as others seen around the country.

Alcoholism is also a big factor on economic impacts of reservations. It can often destroy families and split them up. 

For children who attend St. Joseph’s Indian School, there’s hope, food, shelter and education. 

According to their website, the school is “dedicated to improving the quality of life for Lakota (Sioux) children and families.”

It’s a Catholic school for children ages 6 to 18, and though they have mass services, students still learn the Lakota language and culture while staying at the school. Students are not required to be Catholic in order to attend, the website said.

Rostad-Anderson and her son, Dakota, were able tour the facilities during their last visit in September. 

Though they were not able to hand the donations straight to the kids, they did get to meet some of them on the tour.

“You give them a little thing and their eyes light up,” she said. “They thanked us. They need to know people care about them too.”

Kids stay in apartments together with a volunteer house parent living there also. They have a list of tasks to complete while at school, in addition to learning and studying hard. 

The house parent is responsible for keeping kids on track and attending to needs, such as a winter coat, which can be obtained from donations to the school.

If their grade point average (GPA) is high enough, students can have their own room, instead of having to share.

High school age students have jobs and can earn money. Some have cell phones, but only purchased with their own money and have calling card minutes.

The school also has a high graduation rate. Alumni also go on to successful careers.

The next donation Rostad-Anderson will deliver in May is birthday presents, such as Play Doh, markers, gel pens, toys and more. 

Donations can be dropped off at her shop. Future collection items can be found on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TurquoiseTomato.

For more information about St. Joseph’s Indian School, visit https://www.stjo.org.