USA — Needy families on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are getting loads of help from several organizations in the Black Hills. Workers with Mount Rushmore, the U.S. Forest Service, Custer State Park, and the South Dakota State Wild Land Fire department spent the day collecting fire wood for families. The effort will help warm up homes across the reservation.
It may not sound like it with the buzz of chain saws, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well in the Black Hills. One by one, volunteers neatly stacked wood to help families on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation stay warm.
Mount Rushmore Superintendent Gerard Baker said, “This is the second time Mount Rushmore, we started the program last year.”
It’s a growing program, thanks to the help provided by several other state and federal agencies.
Baker said, “From Custer State Park we have 15 cords there. Here at this site which is on forest service property I think we have about 30 cords. At Rushmore I believe we have around five to six cords.”
The timber is leftovers from a fire management project. What was once potential forest fire fuel will instead bring heat to hundreds of reservation homes.
Baker said, “And they’re in dire straights. There are people down there using gas stoves to heat entire houses with three or four families. They’re in really bad shape and of course in Pine Ridge there’s no timber.”
And what started out as a small holiday gesture is now growing, all thanks to the spirit of giving.
Baker said, “I’m just so tickled to see this happen. I think in this day in age when human being need help, again I’m so proud of everybody out here including the Star Academy and the citizens who came today to cut wood, to make sure nobody freezes.”
Six semi-trucks will deliver the wood to the reservation Thursday night where it will be distributed to various communities.