By Lauren O’Brien
The Christmas season is in the air as snow blankets landscapes in white and people give gifts to family and friends. The Lakota Hope Ministry and GROW Nebraska non-profits are helping Lakota crafters earn income to provide for their families when they make unique Christmas wreaths and crosses for the tenth year.
Three Lakota men work for about three weeks and create wreaths out of Christmas trees. This year they are using re-purposed and recycled artificial Christmas trees as opposed to fresh cedar, spruce, and pine trees. The trees would otherwise end up in attics, thrift stores or landfills. Dennis White Face is a wreath maker who has participated in wreath making for three years. He said he likes making the wreaths out of re-purposed trees because he doesn’t have to go out in the cold weather and cut down trees. White Face is one of the faster wreath makers who can finish one in about 30 minutes.
Based on last year’s sales of wreaths with dream catchers in the center, Director of Lakota Hope Ministry Bruce BonFleur said this year’s wreaths are exclusively made with dream catchers, and they are called dream givers.
Beyond the traditional tree color of green, a few wreaths will be made from pink and white limbs. They are open to suggestions from the public about design ideas as it was suggested to make a breast cancer wreath using the pink and white tree branches.
BJ Chief and John Jones are branch cutters who prepare the limbs for White Face. Chief has to remove lights from prelit trees, only if they work. Then, he uses large trimmers to cut the branches at the longest point and sorts them by style and length. The leftover lights are available for anyone who needs them for free.
The workers keep track of how many wreaths they make because they are paid based on that count. They also receive some money for selling it.
Compared to local stores, Hope Lodge sells their wreaths at half to two-thirds the retail price.
Christmas wreaths symbolize eternity, hope, victory, and unity, which encompasses the spirit of the season and the purpose of the Hope Lodge program.
The Christmas wreaths and crosses will be available to look at and purchase Friday, Saturday, and Sunday after 11 a.m. in front of Walmart in Chadron. People are also able to pick out their wreaths at Hope Lodge in Whiteclay where they are produced. That allows people to customize the accent pieces on the wreaths. To schedule a time to visit call Lakota Hope Ministry at 308-360-2747 or visit the website at www.lakotahope.org. Sales will end on December 18.