Deb Coffey, Executive Director Utah Refugee Center, and blogger, Michelle Brunson shared simple service ideas to help the refugees in your area. Deb helped launch the brand new app Serve Refugees. It helps connect and teach people how to best serve the refugees in their area. You are able to join projects and choose which actions you want to complete.
Service project ideas:
Children's Welcome Bags
With your children, gather a few things to put in pillow cases for the kids that have just arrived. You can add a stuffed animal, books, coloring books, crayons, etc. You can sew a simple pillow case, or buy an inexpensive one from Wal-Mart or the dollar store.
*Also, check to see if your location can accept gently used stuffed animals or if they have to be brand new.
A large percentage of refugees are children, so they will need school supplies. Although they will need them the most at the beginning of the school year, they probably need them throughout the year, for those coming in the middle of the school year. Some helpful items might be backpacks, pencils, notebooks, pens, three-ring binders, folders, and calculators.
*It's easy to focus on the elementary aged kids, but we can't forget about the middle school & high school kids, too!
Women's Welcome Bags
Have a girls' night out and ask everyone to bring a gently used purse and some toiletries to fill it with. You could also add some fun "girly" things, like lotion and chocolate.
Ask your children, friends, and neighbors to each pick out one outfit that they don't use anymore. Collect them and take them to your local refugee center. Easy peasy!
If you're feeling like making it extra fun, throw a pajama party & ask people to bring an extra pair of PJs to donate!
*Just be aware that some refugee centers might not accept shorts or short sleeved shirts.
*One big need is for NEW women's dresses so they can use them for job interviews.
Throw a Baby Shower
Throw a baby shower where all of the gifts are donated to your local refugee center. 70% of refugees are women and children, so chances are that they might have some pregnant women or infants currently or in the near future.
Use your talents
If you love photography, volunteer to take pictures for a family. If you love sewing, make a blanket for them. If you love web design, volunteer to help the refugee center update their website. The possibilities are endless!
Pennies of Time has compiled hundreds of busy books for kids in the hospital, but I think they would work really well in this case, too! These are easy and inexpensive to make. They can be made with one child, or with a large group!
Hold a yard sale & donate the money made to a non-profit who helps refugees. If you want to add a little something, you could even sell lemonade, cookies, juice &/or donuts!
Be a pen-pal
You &/or your children can be connected with a refugee through a local refugee center. You can send them drawings from your children, you can write them cards or letters. This will not only help them learn their English, but it will help them to know that someone cares about them!
Volunteer your time
Not all volunteer opportunities have to be long-term commitments. For example, your family or youth group could set up a time to go play soccer with your local refugee center.
Think twice before throwing it away!
Instead of selling items on Craigslist, or even throwing them out, donate them to your local refugee center. They need basically everything from clothing to personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, and home appliances. If your old washing machine still works, chances are, they would appreciate it!
Car Seat Drive
Car seats can be expensive, but they (all sizes) are very needed for the refugees! After all, if it were your children, you'd want them to travel safely, too, right? You can hold a drive where you collect new ones, have a bake sale to earn money to buy some, or anything else you can think of!