Colorful donations will be special for girls on the Rosebud reservation

August 21, 2014 by

Sister Beth Weddle looks through some of the colorful prom dresses that have already been donated.

Sister Beth Weddle looks through some of the colorful prom dresses that have already been donated.

Shimmering fabrics and bright colors are the hallmarks of most prom dresses.

Shimmering fabrics and bright colors are the hallmarks of most prom dresses.

When Sister Beth Weddle heads to South Dakota early in September, she hopes to have the van she’ll be driving packed with a vibrant array of taffeta, silk, satin, velvet and chiffon — all in the form of donated prom dresses.

So far she’s collected 11 dresses that will be donated to high school girls on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, through the Tree of Life Relief Agency in Mission, S.D. And there’s a lot more space available in the van, so she hopes more young women (or their parents) will take a look in their closets to see if they have something to give.

“Every girl wants a chance to be beautiful at her prom,” Weddle says. “This is just one small effort to make that happen.”

The Relief Agency is part of the Tree of Life Ministry, which has been working with people of the Sioux Nation on the reservation since 1985.  Although it is sponsored by the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church, it is multi-denominational and cross-cultural. Through its Volunteers-in-Mission program, workers from more than a dozen denominations from across the United States spend time there every year.

That’s how Weddle became acquainted with the program and the deep needs of the people there. Since the early 1990s, she has collected blankets and organized small fundraisers for the Relief Agency.

The need is great. According to the Native American Heritage Association, which serves all the reservations in South Dakota, reservation unemployment rates reach 80 percent, as many as 70 percent of the people have no transportation, the average life expectancy is 58 years of age and infant mortality is 10 times the national average.

Weddle had planned to organize a clothing drive this summer, but when she talked with Tree of Life director Russell Masartis, she was surprised when he told her that prom dresses are a special need. The chance to “dress-up” provides a small incentive for kids to stay in school, in an area where dropping out is all too common.

So Weddle started spreading the word. She also recruited another Sister of St. Joseph, Sister Susan Stoeber, to travel to Mission with her.

They plan to pack their colorful cargo on Sept. 5.

If you have a dress you can donate, call Jane at the Nazareth Motherhouse, 785-243-2113, ext. 1101.

To learn more about the Tree of Life Ministry, go to www.treeofliferelief.org.

Comments

One Response to “Colorful donations will be special for girls on the Rosebud reservation”

  1. Loretta Jasper, csj on August 26th, 2014 5:29 pm

    Thanks for being about this, Beth and Susan. Happy heart-making for many high schoolers and parents.

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