July 24, 2024  
Shoebox Christmas Stories


Your generosity made a young man very happy. He also received the story of Jesus' birth and felt the love of Jesus Christ through you. Blessings to you all.


On a trip to a 6th grade class in a school on the reservation I watched one young man open his gift. When he opened his box, there on top was the story of Jesus' birth. Each Shoebox Christmas Gift gets a story of Jesus' birth. He looked at it and placed it next to his box. He then reached in and pulled out a stocking cap and a pair of gloves and placed them beside his box. He picked out the four hot wheel cars and played with them for a minute and then placed them beside his box. He pulled out a coloring book and crayons, and some other small toys and placed them in the growing pile beside his box. He then started pulling out all the candy and popped a tootsie roll in his mouth and placed the other candy in his pile. His teacher told them they could have one piece of candy. He looked in and saw the very last gift laying on the bottom of his box. He reached in and took in out, showed it to his buddy and exclaimed: "Now I don't have to share with my brother"! This young man pulled an .88 cent toothbrush out of his box. I was heartbroken that a child would be that excited about a toothbruse. Something that many of us take for granted. Later during the day, I was speaking with the principle and he related that for 70 percent of these children, this would be the only gift they received for Christmas.


While attending a Christmas party at one of the Recreation Centers on the Spirit Lake Nation, we were presenting blankets and quilts to the elders while the children were receiving their gifts from Santa. A grandmother, an elder of the tribe, came up to us and said: "I just want to thank you for the gift of warmth you have provided me and my grandchildren. This is the best Christmas I can remember in a very long time". We presented over 300 blankets and quilts last year. To watch the children as they sat on Santa's lap and got their gifts was a wonderful experience. Then I started watching the parents and elders of those children. I saw many of them wiping tears of joy as they watched Santa giving out his gifts. I realized then that we were not only impacting the children, but their parents and grandparents too. God blessed me that night with a better understanding of His gifts to the children and parents of the Spirit Lake Nation.


During one of the Christmas parties at a Recreation Center on the Spirit Lake Nation a young mother came up to Libby and me with tears in her eyes. She related this story. My 8 year old son came to me in November and asked me: "Why is Santa mad a me and my sisters?" She said that she could not answer him. She related to us that many of the Christmas' she had to choose between food for her table or gifts for the children. She said that she always felt guilty about not getting any gifts and sometimes told the children that Santa was a good man, but sometimes ran out of gifts because there were so many children in the world. Knowing that she was again not going to be able to afford gifts she said that many times during the Christmas season she would go to bed and cry herself to sleep. She said that she had just recently moved to the Spirit Lake Nation from another reservation and heard about the Shoebox Christmas Gift give away at the recreation center and became excited for her children. She then worried that since she was not a registered member of the tribe her children would not be eligible to receive the gifts. So she resigned herself that her children would go through another Christmas without gifts from Santa. A week before Christmas, her children came home from school with these beautiful little shoeboxes filled with toys and candy. She was very happy that her children received these gifts, but felt bad that Santa was not coming to her house again this year. Then her children told her what she had been dreading. There was a Christmas party at the St Michaels Recreation Center. She expressed her concern that they may not be able to go that day. The day arrived and she said that for some reason, she just loaded up the car and came to the Rec. To her surprise, no one even asked her if she was a registered member of the tribe. They just pointed her to the line to see Santa. For the first time in 8 years, her son got a gift from Santa. He told his mother that Santa was not mad anymore and that he was a really neat guy! God provided one little boy and his sisters with their first Santa gift. He truly is an Awesome God!


The Christmas Shoebox program was a success! This year the peoples of the Dakotas Conference and VIM teams from across the country donated 3,665 gifts for the children of the Dakota’s reservations. Unfortunately, the giving was down by 400 gifts. Because of some last minute donations from local churches and individuals we were able to provide the Turtle Mountain Reservation with 400 Shoebox Christmas gifts. Here are a few stories of how those gifts affected the people who received them. Your generosity shared the love of Jesus Christ with 3,665 children. It also affected the parents of these children. Blessings to you all! Thank you for helping us share the love of Jesus Christ with the children and adults of the Reservations in the Dakotas. Blessings. Mike and Libby

Dear Mike and Libby Flowers:

I want to take this opportunity to thank you and your church congregation for the wonderful shoe box gifts we received for the youth on the Turtle Mountain Reservation. It was such a joy to see needy families able to enjoy the holidays with gifts for their children. Here are some stories of the children and families that you helped make their Christmas special.

As I was out visiting families in our community, I was told about a young grandmother who had recently lost her job due to car repairs she could not financially afford to pay and she had no other means to travel to work. She had taken custody of her two grandchildren whose mother was in prison for drugs. When I found out her phone number and address I called her and told her I had gifts for her grandchildren and that I would be by that afternoon. When I went to her residence, the kids met me at the door and asked “If Santa was with me”, I stated that I was Santa’s Helper and that he would come on Christmas. The kids were so excited to receive the gifts that they wanted to open them up right then but the grandmother told them to put them under the tree. When I was admitted into the living room, their stood a tree that was decorated with handmade and older ornaments, but it was beautiful. Under the tree laid two stockings that the Grandmother explained that was all she had to give the kids for Christmas, with tears in her eyes she thanked me and I told her to call me if she needed anything else for them, as I know various places that could help her with food, she stated she would.

The Police Department called our office about a young family that had recently lost all their possession in a trailer house fire. The couple came to our office and told us that they had made a loan on their income tax and had already bought presents for their children and everything was lost in the fire. They barely escaped with the clothes on their back and luckily the father grabbed the car keys, as the weather was 20 below zero with the wind chill. The couple was placed in emergency housing and the whole community gave what they could to replace the things lost in the fire. The shoe box gifts were welcomed and appreciated by the young family, they had called our office after Christmas and told us that their children received better gifts than what they originally bought them.

I received a call from a neighbor of a young mother of five who was sanctioned from her welfare since November because she was replaced at the local Head Start school by the new Supervisor. The young mother was riding the Head Start bus back and forth to work as she had no vehicle. Due to her termination, the County Welfare to Work program suspended her welfare benefits. Since she had no money the young mother was going to send her five children to their father because she had no gifts to give them on Christmas, which depressed her even more that she would be spending Christmas alone. Because of your shoe box gifts, this young mother was able to keep her children home with her on Christmas. She also loved the blanket she received.

Once the word was out that we were helping those in need, a flood of phone calls from families and agencies that gave us names and addresses of community members who were having hard times during the Christmas season. I know that we couldn’t help everyone but we tried our best to get to those who were having hard times.

With the shoe box gifts and blankets we were able to help more children and families this year. Our community does a coat drive and we put a Christmas Tree at the local post office, but due the fact that we are a poor community not many cards are taken from the tree.

God bless you all for your generosity and thank you so much in helping our community come together to help those in need.

Sincerely, The Turtle Mountain Child Welfare and Family Services Staff