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Press Release
On Giving Tuesday, help the SURF Foundation deliver holiday STEM backpacks to more than 200 South Dakota students who lack basic school supplies for remote learning.


LEAD, SD— This month, the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) Foundation is raising funds to provide more than 200 students with the supplies they need to continue their education during the Covid-19 pandemic. The SURF Foundation’s campaign seeks to raise $5,000 by Dec. 18, 2020, to deliver holiday STEM backpacks to K-8 students at Isna Wica Owayawa Loneman School in Oglala, South Dakota.

At Loneman School, students have been learning virtually for nine months, since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. SURF’s Education and Outreach (E&O) team has been working with Loneman School educators to provide monthly enrichment programs, engaging students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Although federal funds have supplied students with tablets and Wi-Fi for remote learning, the E&O team was told that students likely would not have access to materials needed to take part in science activities from their homes.

Members of the E&O team, including Peggy Norris, deputy director for E&O at Sanford Lab, have been working with educators at Loneman School since this summer. Norris described the difficultly of planning engaging science activities when students have such limited resources: “I asked, ‘But what about pencil and paper? Can we ask them to at least have that for the lesson? And the teacher said, ‘No, they probably don't have that either.’”  

Norris began working with Staci Miller, director of the SURF Foundation, and together they created an initiative to raise $5,000 to provide quality materials to these students this holiday season. This initiative will be the focus during the Foundation’s Giving Tuesday Campaign. Giving Tuesday is a national and statewide celebration of community and generosity.

“We want to raise money for holiday STEM backpacks throughout our entire Giving Tuesday Campaign—from December 1 through 18,” Miller said. “The Foundation’s mission is to support the advancement of world-class science and inspire learning across generations. Each and every person who participates in acts of generosity during Giving Tuesday is helping the Foundation to fulfill that mission and make a difference in a child’s life.”

Miller says $1,250 worth of matching funds have been pledged toward the $5,000 goal by donors, including a one from the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority. 

Funds raised will support the creation of holiday STEM backpacks for students at Loneman School. The backpacks will include basic school supplies (a pencil case, colored pencils, tape, scissors, etc.), a special STEM gift, and snacks and personal hygiene items. This holiday surprise will be safely delivered by Loneman School staff during the school’s weekly food delivery program.

Maridel Hallare, after-school program coordinator and math teacher at Loneman School, said that the program Loneman School worked with in the past to deliver toys to students during the holidays was interrupted due to Covid-19. “When Peggy called me and told me they were doing this, creating these gifts for the students, I was so excited, so happy for our students,” Hallare said.

To help us achieve our goal of $5,000 by December 18, 2020, give online to the SURF Foundation. In the notes section, type “Giving Tuesday” to ensure your gift goes to students at Loneman School. Follow the story on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by following the hashtag #SURFFGives.

Sanford Lab is operated by the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) with funding from the Department of Energy. Our mission is to advance world class science and inspire learning across generations. Established in 2019, the SURF Foundation supports that mission by building upon strong relationships within the community and opening doors for public contributions. Visit Sanford Lab at

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Constance Walter
Communications Director
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