Dr. Shane Sarver, director of research at BHSU, Jake Alsdurf, graduate student, and Laura Kramer, administrative assistant in the Natural Sciences program and a BHSU graduate student, fill stockings for Red Shirt students.

The conference room in the Black Hills State University Life Sciences Laboratory was turned into Santa’s workshop last week as a handful of graduate students and professors filled 77 stockings of donated items from pencils and calculators to socks, hats and games which were delivered to the Red Shirt community this week.

The stuffed stockings, however, are just a part of the donations brought to community as part of an ongoing tradition started by two BHSU students 12 years ago.

In 2000, Drew Robertson and Eric Jones initiated a Red Shirt Toy Drive as a service-learning project for their Siouan Tribal Culture class. Since then, the exchange has grown into a campus-wide and community event, according to Jace DeCory, assistant professor of history and American Indian Studies at BHSU.

Nearly each year since Robertson and Jones first started their project, another BHSU and Spearfish group has joined in the giving.

The program kicks off with two angel gift trees placed inthe David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union and the E.Y. Berry Library Learning Center where people are encouraged to take an “angel” and place an unwrapped gift under the tree.

The BHSU Center for the Conservation of Biological Resources(CCBR) has filled stockings for the students for six years, according to Cynthia Anderson, assistant professor of biology and associate director of the CCBR.

Last week, they filled personalized stockings full of school supplies, toys and more, as well as bags filled with healthy snacks. “The stockings go to students from pre-K to high school and are filled with some items they need and some that are just for fun,” according to Laura Kramer, administrative assistant in the Natural Sciences program and a BHSU graduate student. Kramer also made personalized ornaments which were added to the stockings.

Anderson said when the CCBR became involved in the exchange they had less than 20 students needing stockings. Since then, the need has grown and so has the support from BHSU and the Spearfish community.


A group of BHSU students, faculty and community members took all the donated gifts to the Red Shirt community this week.

A group of BHSU students, faculty and community members delivered the gifts to Red Shirt.  They spent the day with the community and participated in a holiday party and gift exchange at the end of the school day.

DeCory said several individuals and organizations come together to make this exchange possible including: Red Shirt school faculty and staff including school principal Barbara Ice; the BHSU Center for American Indian Studies; Lakota Omnicye; the American Indian Science and Engineering Society; CCBR Lab, BHSU Bookstore; BHSU students, faculty and staff who take the angels and donate gifts;  BHSU alumni in the greater community; and a friend and colleague of DeCory’s from Bay State College in Boston who sends several boxes every year with donated new items ranging from toys to towels and toothbrushes.