The Spirit of the Holidays: Let’s Help Pine Ridge

Longtime readers may remember reading about Pine Ridge a few times over the past couple of years. This holiday season is no different: I’m asking for help for Pine Ridge.

Every December, a group of people from Friends of the Lakota Nation head up to South Dakota to host a toy drive for the people on the Pine Ridge Reservation. As it turns out, these people are my friends: Joie and Scott Norby. Joie was my high school dance coach so I have known her for almost 20 years. She and her husband, Scott, founded Friends of the Lakota back in 2010. Scott grew up South Dakota, an upbringing that raised his awareness of the hardships of life on the res. As an adult, he hoped to better the situation for the beautiful and resilient Lakota people. Thus, Friends of the Lakota was formed.



Guys, this isn’t just words: I’ve been up to Pine Ridge too. In fact, Will and I made the trip the past two years along with the Norby family. Unfortunately, we cannot make it this year but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do everything I can to support them for their holiday toy drive. Pine Ridge is a place that could use an extra step up. Unemployment rates are around 80%; teacher turnover rate is 800% higher than the national average; the infant mortality rate is five times higher than the national average; and 1/3 of the homes on the res don’t have electricity or running water.


{I could go into more details about the plight of the Lakota people at Pine Ridge, but I won’t. Instead, read all about it here on Friends of Lakota’s website.}

My point is this: those kiddos really-and-truly look forward to this holiday toy drive! In past years, we’ve seen families that walked two hours to town to receive a single gift, only to turn around and walk two hours back to their home. I spent an hour playing football in the front yard with one little boy who was elated about his gift. His family had no means of getting to the toy drive, so we brought the gifts to them, and he was thrilled beyonds words.


My husband, showing some excited boys his camera at last year’s event

Every year, the Norby family arranges a toy list, handpicked by Joie {a former high school teacher}. In addition to these gifts, the volunteers will be bringing blankets, coats, hygiene kits, food, books, and other necessities for families to take home with them. But every little kid wants a gift during the holidays and it would be heart wrenching to turn families away without a gift for their children. Won’t you please help?


  1. Click on this link to view the Amazon toy list that Joie created. If you are a Prime member, you will notice that she specifically chose Prime items for free shipping!
  2. Select what you can afford and ship it off to the Norby family. Their {private} address will be included as the default shipping option. Their family will then wrap the gifts before carting them up to the reservation.
  3. If you’d rather, you can also donate cash through Square. To do so, click here.



  • Reply Caryn at

    Thanks for doing this, Heather! Andrew and I have donated or volunteered in lieu of gifts the last few years, and this year we sent our gifts to the Lakota Nation. Really appreciate what you and the Norby’s do. I’m also glad you included that they receive necessities, because I was wondering about that before I just sent toys 🙂 So glad they’ll get both!

    • Reply Heather at

      Thanks Caryn!

  • Reply Amy Johns at

    This is such a great cause and I’m so happy you reminded us about it. Thank you!!

    • Reply Heather at

      Thank YOU for your support!!

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