Santa’s Elves are Coming to Town

December 15, 2017

IMG_1031Everyone knows that Santa has helpers all across our community, but did you know that some of those helpers are actually elves who work for Howalt+McDowell Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company?

This Christmas elves from Howalt+McDowell joined staff from LSS in helping Santa complete his shopping list for youth and families served through LSS Foster Care Services.

Armed with wish lists from the youth, our happy helpers piled up their sleighs to help fill Jolly Old Saint Nick’s sack to provide presents for 28 youth and their foster care families.

This is the second year that Howalt+McDowell has participated in this holiday giving event with LSS and  Christy Westerman described the opportunity as a way to pay it forward.

Howalt-McDowell Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency has a long history of supporting our community in various ways.  As a Sales Executive, I am provided the opportunity to sponsor an event of my choice.  As Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, I wanted it IMG_1016to be something that would bring joy and happiness to families during the Christmas season.    We are very fortunate to work with Lutheran Social Services and understand the important services LSS brings to our community.  Therefore, in collaboration with my colleagues, Tracy Dahl-Webb and Jared Ducommun, we were able to sponsor the 2nd year of shopping for children that are currently in foster care under Lutheran Social Services.  As you can see by the smile on our faces, I’m not sure who receives more of the joy and happiness, the givers or the receivers.

Seems as though the elves had as much fun shopping for the presents as the youth will have opening and playing with them!

We cannot thank those at Howalt+McDowell enough for their continued support and commitment to the LSS mission of Strengthening Individuals, Families and Communities for their continued support of LSS Foster Care Services.

You can join Howalt+McDowell by bringing the spirit of holidays to youth in need. Youth in our residential centers throughout the state have also written wish lists to the North Pole (lists are detailed below).

You help expedite the Santa delivery service by purchasing one of those items today and dropping them by one of our LSS locations or by making a donation to LSS Residential Services here.

 LSS Residential Services Holiday Wish List
– Wii games and controllers
– Volleyballs, Nerf balls, footballs, basketballs, soccer balls
– Card games/decks of cards
– Board Games and puzzles
– T-shirts and sweatshirts
– Gift cards for movie tickets, pizza, Juice Stop
– Books: ages 10 to 18
– Arts & crafts supplies, magazines for projects
– Duffel bags
– Quilts
– Personal hygiene products: shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, lotion, tampons, razors, shave gel, toothbrushes (new and in package), toothpaste, nail clippers, shower gel, toilet paper
– Bean bag toss
– Toys – (My Little Pony, Barbies, Stuffed Animals)
– Xbox360
– Good lumber for kids projects: building birdhouses, doghouses, and more
– Fishing poles & equipment
– Cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, paper towels
– Extra long twin sheet sets, extra long mattress pads, new pillows, blankets/quilts
– Bath towels

Post by Jamie Lennon


December 13, 2017

One hour a week may not seem like much time, but you might be surprised by how much2017 mentoring graphic bandw that little bit of time means to a child. Kurt Turbak, a professional school counselor at Hawthorne Elementary School, said it best.

If you do not hear it frequently from your student, please know you are appreciated and loved. Many of our students become anxious this time of year knowing their holiday expectations will not be met, and they will lose their consistency of seeing friends and mentors over the break.

Please realize you give our students the biggest gift they can receive during the holidays every week that you come to see them. The gift of your time is something our students greatly treasure but most cannot put into words, so I will do it for them. Thank you for your commitment and generosity of your time and for being YOU!

At LSS, we appreciate mentors time, energy and compassion too! Hawthorne Elementary has posters displayed with the word “Ubuntu.” It is an old African philosophy that is taught throughout the school. The concept is “I am who I am because you are who you are.”

Whether you are involved in Everyday Heroes or USucceed mentoring programs or a supporter of LSS, thank you for being who you are.

Last year, LSS mentors made a significant impact on the lives of 1,355 children. Now, take a moment to imagine the impact of that one hour each week. Making a positive impact on the lives of others makes me proud to be part of LSS. This is what we do better than anyone else!

But the reality is there are operational costs for a program like this to exist. The cost per match is $93 per year. This is less than half of the national average. Would you consider sending a financial gift this holiday season to support LSS Mentoring Services? Your gift will help recruit, screen, and match new volunteer mentors with local students. It helps support and sustain matches already made. It also helps provide ongoing training for mentors throughout the year on topics such as bullying, poverty, and safety.

Visit to make a secure online donation. Your continued support is needed to provide ongoing services. Your gift will be designated to LSS Mentoring Services and will directly benefit students and mentors in the program.

With your gifts, we can sustain the work of making more children feel the importance of a mentor in their lives.

Cards for Neighbors

December 8, 2017

postcard-4inx6in-h-frontThis time of year, our mailboxes might be a little fuller than usual due to holiday greetings from friends and family. There are some people who do not get as many warm wishes of hope and happiness due to the loss of friends and disconnections from their family.

The LSS Better Together program matches older adults aged 65+ with a volunteer. The older adults, who we call neighbors, can sometimes feel isolated and lonely. This year, we want to shower them with cards to celebrate the season and let them know there are many people in the community who care! To help us, please drop off or send holiday cards to:

LSS Better Together
705 E 41st Street, Suite 220
Sioux Falls, SD 57105

Please drop the cards off or send them so they are received by Monday, December 18. We will then package them all up and mail them to Better Together neighbors. Please include an encouraging message in the card and feel free to get creative!

If you’d like to befriend an older adults in our community, please consider applying to become a Better Together volunteer. There are four Sioux Falls women currently waiting for someone to join them in this program. Individuals, couples, families, co-workers or small groups can volunteer together. The application is available here.

Post by Michelle Madsen

Light and Life to All He Brings, Ris’n with Healing in His Wings

December 6, 2017

The angel choir proclaimed God’s gifts to humanity – peace, mercy, joy, light, healing – all wrapped in a tiny baby. As we welcome the newborn King this season, Lutheran Social Services is thankful to be a part of sharing these gifts with individuals, families and communities across South Dakota.

We ask in Jesus’ name that the gifts of peace and mercy will abound to all those in need this season, especially—

  • Bless the refugee working to put the oppression of her homeland behind her.
  • Bless the young man struggling with severe mental illness who is learning to make it on his own.
  • Bless the couple creating a new family with an adopted child.
  • Bless communities of all sizes healing from devastating disasters as they begin to move forward.

As we reflect on our own blessings, I invite you to join LSS in caring for others. Last year, LSS provided care and touched the lives of others more than 61,000 times with the light of healing. As federal and state government support declines, your prayers, support and gifts are needed more than ever. Please consider a gift to LSS today by clicking here. Or, visit to make a secure online donation.  Whatever you can give at this time will be a blessing to those we serve.

May the joy of the season rise in your heart both now and throughout the coming year.

Betty Oldenkamp
LSS President/CEO

Introduction to Patient Care Class

December 4, 2017


nursing equipment


The Center for New Americans will be hosting an Introduction to Patient Care Class in January.  This class is designed for intermediate English learners.  They will be studying nursing vocabulary, cultural skills and content to prepare for a potential career in the healthcare industry.

Students are required to take and pass an entrance examination to join the class.  Examinations will be held Monday, December 11, at 12:30 p.m. and Wednesday, December 13, at 12:30 p.m.

Anyone who is interested in the class can contact Celina at 605-731-2000 or come to the front desk for the entrance exam.

Posted by Heather Glidewell, ESL Instructor

The Great Thanksgiving Turkey

December 1, 2017

thanksgiving turkey

Our annual Thanksgiving celebration was a big hit this year.  Around 200 students, staff, teachers, and volunteers came together to share food and play Thanksgiving games.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, and it is especially important to our extended LSS family.  Students and teachers, together, worked hard for a memorable celebration.  Some students spoke and shared what they were thankful for, one class sang “Over the River,” and many students shared their gratitude and their feather on our Thanksgiving turkey.  Armed with 300 paper feathers, teachers and students discussed the importance of Thanksgiving and decorated the feathers with those things that the students were most grateful for.  Then students and teachers then added their feather to the turkey.

And what are our students thankful for?  What did the feathers say?  Answers varied from family, life, a safe home, America, a new chance, school, teachers to a better life, peace, freedom, and God.

LSS Classroom Volunteer Jenna said, “My favorite thanksgiving moment so far has been spending time with dozens and dozens of refugees and immigrants as we shared a (wonderfully international) Thanksgiving dinner. They all wrote something they were thankful for, and their words and spirit have been so humbling.”

After all the festivities, students, volunteers, and staff alike, were able to sit down and enjoy a wonderful internationally Thanksgiving meal complete with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and of course pumpkin pie alongside singryla, tamales, sambusa, and chow mein!  Such a wonderful feast for a wonderful day!

Written by Heather Glidewell and Silke Hansen, LSS ESL Instructors


Rethink That White Picket Fence

November 30, 2017

My in-laws have decided it’s time to make a move.  It’s just the two of them and a small dog in their spacious 3 bed, 2 ½ bath home on a corner lot.  They’ve made a decision that a lot of people in their generation are making.  They are ready to downsize to a townhome.  When I first started selling homes here in Sioux Falls, that’s exactly what townhomes were – the first step of retirement housing in that gradual journey to the nursing home.  Now let me be clear – in no way am I implying that my in-laws are that old.  I’m just sharing why they made the choice they have…… I mean…….uh, anyway……..  While this is still the case for some people, the typical townhome buyer is changing.

If you are dreaming of your very own single-family, picket fence bird housestand-alone home with the white picket fence, you may want to rethink that regardless of your distance from the nursing home. Read the rest of this entry »

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