Helping Our People Overcome Economic & Social Disadvantage
308 N. Piegan, Browning, MT
This Christmas, we will use a format similar to the 2015 Blackfeet Children Christmas Party, namely: 1. Host a large, boisterous 4-hour party just before Christmas where case workers round up and bring in their kids for gifts, games, movies, food, and activities. 2. Purchase major items for the Nurturing Center (the tribal orphanage) and other group homes. 3. Deliver gifts to the Blackfeet Hospital for the doctors and nurses to give to kids who are hospitalized in December and January. 4. Provide gifts for special cases: kids and families who need something extra or special for Christmas (we have a few referred to us every year).
We aren’t like some other 501(c)3 nonprofits that pester, hard sell, or play the pity card. Rather, we simply tell you what we have planned, how we will spend your money, and what good we aim to do. Your heart will tell you if you want to help. Your checkbook will tell you if you can.
Every donor receives a Thank You certificate and appears on our periodically-updated donor list which includes everyone who has ever donated, highlights current donors in color, and groups everyone in broad dollar totals based on cumulative lifetime giving. We do it this way because we consider all donors to be permanent friends and benefactors. We never stop being grateful for your donations and goodwill, even if finances or absentmindedness causes our friends to skip a year or two.
Again this year, anyone who donates $250 or more will be sent a beaded medicine wheel or beaded dreamcatcher (you can choose) made by a Blackfeet artist.
Thank you so much for your help in making Christmas brighter for our children!
As an aside, because the vast majority of you donate every year, I know from your comments that you have a great interest in life here and what can be done to drive social and economic progress, particularly to lift members up from pervasive, grinding poverty. I hear similar comments and questions from the thousands of visitors on the Blackfeet Reservation that visit the various companies and organizations I operate, oversee, assist, mentor, or have invested in. So, recently I’ve been working on a document that provides perspective, analysis, and ideas that might interest you. If you have a few minutes to read further, scroll down past my sign-off just below to find the Table of Contents, excerpts, and the link to download the full document. I welcome your input and thoughts. One more thing: Please, if you have friends who might like to know about the Christmas Fund or have an interest in the Blackfeet or Indian Country, forward this email to them.
To make a donation: please go to: www.americanindianpartnership.org Thanks again,
Message From Gregg
December 5, 2016
Dear Friend and Benefactor,
For the last seven years, in early December, I have written to let you know our plans to deliver a brighter Christmas to the most disadvantaged children on the Blackfeet Reservation. Thanks to your kindness and generosity, every year has been a joyously spectacular event, better than the last. To date, we have given out thousands of gifts to happy, excited kids.
To ensure your money goes where it does the most good, every year we call Tribal and federal child services on the reservation to find out how many children are on the homeless list (i.e. living in our orphanage / foster / group homes) and what is on their wish lists. We also ask what sort of major communal gifts would benefit the homes (e.g. playground equipment, PCs, tablets, game consoles, etc.). Then we plan parties, buy truckloads of gifts, and our many volunteers --we are all volunteers, including me-- create magic for surprised, delighted, gleeful children, many of whom have been dealt the worst hands you can imagine. There is a slide show on our website home page so you can see for yourself.
What feels better than showering a deeply disadvantaged child with love, showing them you value and care about them? I am sure you will agree with me that the answer is… Nothing.
Message From Gregg
November 15, 2014
Thanks to your generous donations, every year for the last five years the Blackfeet Children Christmas Fund has found new and better ways to do something good for those Blackfeet Reservation children dealt the worst hands.
Our press page has articles that tell the story of our evolution from throwing huge come-one-come-all parties with thousands of kids and mountains of presents, to focusing ever more tightly on doing big, high impact things for children that have nothing and desperately need something good in their lives: displaced children, children abused and neglected in unimaginable ways, children that Tribal police pulled out of drug houses wrapped only in new blankets because everything in the house was contaminated.
As happens everywhere, it is adults guilty of bad decisions that makes hell on earth... but it is the innocent little ones that have to live in it.In 2013 I asked our various Tribal and federal child-protective agencies to find us the innocent little ones most in need. I got a lengthy list and on it were details of the child’s background (with their full names redacted for obvious reasons). So in one of the poorest, hardest places in America I’ve had children sit on my lap whose terrible stories were known to me: Children whose parents are dead or in prison, often for crimes against their own families. Children that have been abused, molested, beaten, starved. Children that literally have nothing other than what you and other kind hearted people were able to give them that day.
It’s one thing to read about it, another thing entirely to have your arms around these victims and know their stories. You smile outside, scream and cry inside, and never want to let go. This is nightmare stuff, as my own nightmares can attest.
But, you know, every single one of those children, at least on that day, was full of life, laughter, happiness, excitement, goodness, and hope. Children are resilient and even after the terrible road they've traveled it’s not too late for them. Little gestures like giving them a Christmas they didn’t dare hope for can, by the power of love, caring, and generosity, help them stay on the road to a better place and brighter future.
So this year we take it a step further. Here’s the plan:
1. Between December 1st and 20th, volunteers, my family, and I will be traveling the Reservation, visiting group and protective homes, distressed households, and the hospital, meeting with house parents and caregivers to find out what major Christmas gifts would be just right for those individual children, and what supplies, decorations, etc. we can provide the home to make Christmas morning memorable, exciting, and joyous. All those gifts will be wrapped and delivered to the homes by the 23rd.
2. We will also find out what the home can use to communally benefit all the children –e.g. a big screen TV with gaming console and games, outdoor play equipment, playhouses, toys, PCs / laptops / tablets / printers, etc. We will deliver and set up those gifts after Christmas and in to 2015 as funds and manpower becomes available. That’s what we will do with your money this year.
Thank you so much! Gregg
* * * * * * *
November 20, 2013
For the last four years, the second best day of my year has been December 30th, when the Blackfeet Children Christmas Fund holds our annual event. (The very best day being Christmas morning with my own young kids.)
Every year we try something new, and it just keeps getting better and better. It all began in November 2010 when my staff and I were sitting around in a big old building I own in Browning talking about how sad it is that so many kids on the reservation don’t get much of a Christmas.
We had nearly 5,000 square feet of open space, so I suggested we try to raise some money, mainly online from off-reservation folks, and do something fun for the kids. It was a huge success that overflowed the building. So in 2011 we held it at one of the schools, which overflowed as well.
By the way, aside from much better volunteer availability, it turns out the best thing about having our events after Christmas is that we get great deals in Great Falls from retailers, especially WalMart and Sam’s Club who work closely with us to provide pallets of great toys at deep discounts. Averaged over the thousands of toys we buy on Dec 26th – 29th, we get about $3 worth of toys for every $1 we spend, and that makes a huge difference.
My part in this has always been to create the materials, do the large-scale emailings, raise the money, suggest ideas for the event to our army of volunteers, and oversee shopping. Then the volunteers make it happen, always beyond my wildest imaginings. It is something to behold watching all these good-hearted Blackfeet do anything and everything they can to make a special day for our children.
But strictly speaking, we are all volunteers, because everyone including me works for free on the Christmas Fund. And this might surprise people (especially those that don’t understand how Indian tribes are organized and govern themselves) but we never ask for or get a penny from Tribal government or the Tribal Council.
In 2012, I think I may have surprised the volunteers when on December 15th I said that given the tragedy at Newtown, CT of December 14th, I didn’t want to put on a big raucous party. Just didn’t seem right to me. I asked if instead we could enlist Tribal police and firefighters to go door-to-door delivering gifts in those neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of financially struggling households. It is not uncommon in these neighborhoods to have 6, 8, or more kids living in small houses, and these are the kids we wanted to surprise with gifts. What an amazing day that was, as you can gather from the pictures. Many of us thought that reaching the kids that need it the most and making it more personal was the best format so far.
In November I was reading the news and came across that Bat Kid story in San Francisco. It really inspired me to think about trying to focus on the neediest of the needy on the reservation, and rather than do small things for a large number of children, this year do something really big for a smaller number. I remembered that we had sent gifts up to our shelters and children’s protective custody houses every year, since those kids either had to stay on premises or didn’t have transportation. So I called around and found that the schools keep a roster of kids that are homeless.
There are 143 names on the list. And when I heard some of their stories it was like a kick in the stomach. For example, kids whose parents cook meth, so when police removed them they had to leave contaminated clothes and blankets behind. These kids literally have nothing --not even the clothes on their back. Think about that for a moment. A child is born in just about the poorest place in America, a place where violence, lawlessness, substance abuse, soul-crushing poverty, and despair is all around you. On top of that, the child is dealt a hand that includes parents that are drug addicts?
What chance has that child got? So the least we can do is let these children know that someone loves them and cares about them. The least we can do is give them a little happiness, and look them long and straight in the eye so they believe people really do care about them. Even little gestures like that can help get a child on a better path to a better place.
So that’s what we are gonna do in 2013: raise all the money we can and do something big for those 143 children that will not just make them happy and lift their spirits, but create a meaningful memory for them that will, we hope, help carry them through to a better place.
If you can help us do that with a donation, THANK YOU SO MUCH!