I hesitate to post this because I don't want to seem like I'm drawing attention to myself. That really isn't my intent. In fact it is embarrassing but some have asked that I post it. I normally do not like credit for anything because that means I will also get the criticism that goes with it. No matter what you do in life, some will bless you and some will curse you. I try not to pay attention to either camp. I just do what I think God wants me to do and what others think of it is not my business.
When the editor contacted me about doing a story about what we were doing I was thrilled - ya never know who might read it and want to be involved, but then it started looking like it was just a story about me, and I was disappointed. Sometimes maybe you have to do this to get the word out about what you're trying to do I suppose?? In any case, here's the story that will come out this weekend in a local newsletter/newspaper that goes to 1500 homes.
Amber Buriff is a pastor's wife who has lived in the Fairfield Township area for more than 20 years. She graduated from Fairfield High School and attended Miami University. Since 2004, Amber has organized trips to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, one of our country’s poorest areas. Each year the group delivers backpacks and school supplies to the Lakota children on the Reservation. Amber’s story is inspiring.I’m sure you’ll feel the same as she tells us in her own words how she began to answer the call of those in need.
PURPOSE THROUGH TRADGEY
Backpacks for Pine Ridge was really born out of frustration and pain. Like most people,I would hear about the conditions of people living in poverty but didn’t feel like there was very much I could do. Then I went through a difficult period where I experienced a series of losses. My husband’s cousin passed away from breast cancer leaving six children without a mother. Another friend lost his battle with melanoma leaving his bride of less than a year. And my college professor Sherry Corbett was tragically murdered while standing on her street talking to a neighbor on a Saturday afternoon. These losses and others, drove home the point that life is short. I came to the realization that I didn’t have time to wait for someone else to take action. None of us are promised that we will have another day to do the things we meant to do. Even if I live the 70-80 or so years that are the average life-span, that was not a lot of time. I believe we are given our lives for a purpose and I felt an urgency to get busy doing what I was put here to do.
ANSWERING THE CALL
So the first year I began meeting with a group of individuals who wanted to do something to make a difference in their world. We began The Matthew 25 Project at our church to make our congregation aware of opportunities to give and reach out to the hurting in our own community. The next year we expanded our efforts by planning a trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. That first trip to South Dakota was when we began taking backpacks and school supplies. I can’t really say why we chose school supplies as a project. It just seemed like something we should do. We took 150 backpacks with school supplies to the village of Allen, which is listed as the poorest village in America. We didn’t realize at that time why backpacks and school supplies were so important. We didn’t know that the school drop out rate was 70% or that the poverty on Pine Ridge Reservation was to the extent that people could not afford to have their basic needs met. A lot of people there do not have water or electricity. Many freeze to death in the winter because they cannot afford heat. In those kinds of extreme conditions school supplies can be a need that is easily overlooked and yet is so important and appreciated because it is a way of offering their children hope for a future.
EXPANDING THE MISSION
We are now expanding the Backpacks for Pine Ridge effort to include as many children on the Reservation as possible. It is our hope to be able to give every child on the Reservation a new backpack and school supplies each year. To do this it will take roughly $60,000.00 each year so we are organizing a community wide fundraising effort. In the summer of 2008 we are planning a benefit concert that will include all types of music, Christian, non-Christian, rock, country, blues. The thing that is unique about this event is that it reaches beyond barriers to include so many different people from various backgrounds all coming together to help some of our Nation’s poorest children.
To help out you can contact Amber at TheMatt24Project@aol.com or visit backpacksforpineridge.blogspot.com
- My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.