Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Local Teachers and Pilots Making a Huge Difference

Anita Havens, a retired teacher from Oxford School District, has teamed with local pilots to deliver coats to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Wounded Knee, South Dakota. 

The poverty at Pine Ridge is staggering. With a population of over 40,000 people, 97 percent live below the U.S. federal poverty line with a median household income ranging between $2,600 and $3,500 per year, according to the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation and the American Indian Humanitarian Foundation.

There is no industry, technology or commercial infrastructure to provide employment for the reservation’s residents, contributing to its 90 percent unemployment rate. The nearest town for the people to find work is 120 miles away, and most have no transportation.

At least 60 percent of the homes are severely substandard with no electricity or insulation, no sewage, and no running water. Many have to carry water (often contaminated) from local rivers.   

Weather is extreme on the reservation with summer temperatures often exceeding 110 degrees while winters bring bitter cold. It is not uncommon for winter temperatures to fall to -50 degrees below zero, making it very difficult on seniors.

The Pilots for Pine Ridge are delivering warm clothing, coats, sweaters, gloves, socks and blankets. Even though we are not able to help all, someone may not freeze to death this winter because of the warm, gently worn coat that you donate. 

The collection center for the Oxford area this year is Della Davidson Elementary School at 209 Commonwealth Boulevard and the Central Office, located in the old Oxford Elementary building off Highway 30.

Drop off your donations and Pilots for Pine Ridge will deliver them to the reservation.

The cutoff date for this year’s collection is Oct. 31. 

If you are a pilot and would like to participate in the flight, contact Anita Havens at

Staff report