Each year at LHNC the stress level before Christmas on the Reservation is high. We worry if we'll have enough toys, articles of clothing, food, sporting goods, and more for the kids. I can only imagine how Santa does it on such a grand scale. One year we had a higher demand (3 Head Start Programs and another small town outside of Poplar). I was concerned that we weren't going to have enough gifts to serve the kids.
Kenny Smoker, head of HPDP, told me to relax and whatever you bring will surely be enough. Besides, he said, as needed and great as the gifts are (we really need them!) the most memorable part of it all is us coming out to the Reservation to hand out the gifts.
When we first arrive, we always talk about Fun Day that happened 3 months prior. Hearing feedback from the kids about the event is so rewarding! The kids look forward to it all year round.
Each kid seems to have a special gift they think Santa is going to bring. They wish for motorized cars, a pair of boots, an NFL jacket, the newest and latest game, and more.
You get such a feeling of joy when a child gets the toy they wanted. From that huggable stuffed bear or dog to a blanket that is both warm and cuddly. You feel so great helping kids discover a new way of looking at the world.
Each year there is a favorite gift that the kids just love, only to change the next year!
The teachers and other volunteers make sure all the clothes including shoes, jackets, boots, and sneakers fit to a T. They put in huge amounts of volunteer time to make sure the right size gift, article of clothing, or toy gets to the right kid. Often they know if the child is in difficult circumstances at home.
The very young kids see the gifts they wished for lining up with what they receive and believe that Santa has come to Fort Peck.
We’d have it no other way!