Building With Blankets

Over the course of five weeks, two rival high schools came together for a common cause. With my vision, they set out to make the world a better place. Thus, Building With Blankets was born!

In 6th grade, I  was introduced to a group of people who were similar to my own, yet intriguingly different. Every year during the fall, they would come for a week or two to learn about Judaism and to teach me (and my classmates) about their ways of life and their history. This group of people is located on a reservation in Montana and call themselves the Northern Cheyenne.

In the spring of my 8th grade year, I was blessed to have gone to the reservation on a class trip. On the reservation, we learned about the construction and the symbolism of the tipi, the community gatherings of the sweat lodge, the relationship between organisms and human beings, how sacred water has been for the tribe, along with the cruelty and poverty the tribe has endured. I fell in love with the reservation. Despite the drugs, the alcoholism, the theft, and the break-ins,  there was something truly magical and spiritual amongst the people I met.

On that trip, I began to discover who I really was as a person. I began to understand that something needed to change and that many people needed help. I guess you could say that I started to listen for my calling, and I started to understand what I was being called to do. The Northern Cheyenne have helped me evolve as an individual and many have seen me grow up for the past six years. They have helped me become the person I am today.

This past October, I was once again reunited with some wonderful friends from the tribe. We laughed, we danced, we told secrets, we spragned an ankle, and we went to the local mall. During the evening, before the bonfire and the powwow, a friend of mine was trying to teach me how to dance Fancy Shawl, which I was going to do with a blanket that I purchased at the Yellowstone National Park. Unfortunately, this friend spranged her ankle, and for about an hour, I was by her side (along with her father and her niece who were also on the trip) trying to make her feel better between the screems, teirs, and the convultions of pain. The three of them went to the hospital to get an x-ray. Meanwhile, the unnamed neice texted her fellow Cheyenne friends that I was allowed to wear her jingle dress and dance in her place. What I night it was!

jingle-bell-dress

It was truly a dream come true. I had a sleepover with the girls at the cabin they were staying at. The next morning, we all attended synagogue where they were able to listen to Hebrew songs and prayers. During the luncheon afterwards, something popped into my head. I asked if I could collect blankets and coats for the Northern Cheyenne community. My middle school principle and my friend Mr. M*********** agreed that it was an excellent idea.

I informed my friend at the rival high school about my idea, and she was on board. We spoke to our academic advisors and our principles to see if the high schools could host the charities, and they agreed!

With papers given to all the students with information, boxes and posters all over the school, and many hours spent planning, the fundraiser lasted three weeks at each high school. My high school collected 8 boxes and the rival high school collected 18 boxes of donations (donuts were offered at the other school). We raised approximately 300 lbs of donations consisting of blankets, coats, hats, gloves, and scarves. Some were bought just for the fundraiser.

The hardest part was sorting through what was given and putting it all in boxes.

These pictures only account for maybe 3.5 out of the 28 boxes.

With the help of my principle who introduced me to the Northern Cheyenne all those years ago, all the boxes were safely shipped over to the Chief Dull Knife College on the reservation where Mr. M********** teaches the cheyenne language. the professor distributed the donations to The Boys and Girls Club along with a community home for the elderly so that all generations can stay warn this winter and winters to come.

Great work everyone. Thank you to everyone who helped.

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