Saturday, December 16, 2006

t. Charles Resident Helps Native American Children Have A Merry Christmas

By Tony Brockmeyer

Hundreds of Native American in South Dakota children will have a very Merry Christmas due to efforts of Joyce Smith and others in St. Charles.

For the past 10 years Joyce Smith along with friends, neighbors and others have been collecting toys and gifts for the Lakota Sioux Children at the Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Bluff, South Dakota. Last week a 53-foot trailer loaded with Christmas presents left St. Charles enroute to the children so they can have a very merry Christmas.

“We were able to fill all but 54 requests out of the 593 we received this year,” Smith told the First Capitol News. Smith along with a group of volunteers, school children, teachers, church groups and others work to answer requests the children have written in letters to Santa. The presents are then packed and stored, usually in building or houses owned by Erv Emerling a St. Charles businessman. On the day the toys and presents are to be shipped members of the St. Charles County Metro West SWAT team load the trailer.

While camping in South Dakota with her late husband, a former superintendent of the Fort Zumwalt School District who passed away in 1997, Smith met Julie Garreau. Garreau started the youth camp for the Indian children in 1988. After learning about the plight of the Indian children Joyce Smith started her annual Christmas project and has been working hard to fill as many requests as possible each year.