Local Bank Donates Thanksgiving Lunch to Refugees
Thirty-three refugees celebrated their first Thanksgiving on Wednesday, November 24, festivities which were sponsored by a local Wells Fargo branch and included five turkeys and all the trimmings of a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Wells Fargo, located on Brand Boulevard in Glendale, has partnered with the IRC before, but previous partnerships cannot compare to this—a meal that could feed fifty people. Karmen Edgarian, an assistant branch manager at Wells Fargo, contacted the Los Angeles office and asked how her bank could give back to the community during the holiday season. After some brainstorming, Wells Fargo decided to not only donate a Thanksgiving feast to the IRC but also to meet and greet some of IRC’s refugee population in order to better understand their needs.
Refugee families from Iraq, Iran, Syria and Eritrea joined in on the festivities. Most were eager to take pictures and talk to IRC staff and volunteers. Although language could have been an issue, stronger English speaking refugees happily bridged the communication gap. There was no mistaking the warm atmosphere.
Edgarian told refugees she came to the United States twenty years ago. Wells Fargo “wants you to know that this is a country where you could become someone. You’ve come to the right place,” she said.
Some of the guests have been in the U.S. for a while, but some were new. Jinan, a refugee from Iraq, has been in the U.S. relatively longer. He pointed to two families and said they had just arrived a week ago. They were his neighbors, he said, and he tried to help them however he could.
Safana and Remwon emigrated from Syria with their baby, Mikha. They spent their sixth day in the U.S. being very American; they celebrated Thanksgiving with turkey, good company and plenty of conversation. This celebration was their first taste of America because they had spent the rest of their time indoors.
Beyond celebrating Thanksgiving, which is a uniquely American holiday, the refugees seemed to be celebrating friendships they have found in their newly adopted home.
None of the guests had ever had turkey before. Edgarian served plates piled with turkey; stuffing; mashed potatoes and gravy; vegetables; and bread. She took the time to talk to staff, volunteers and refugees.
Edgarian made it a point to share her IRC Thanksgiving experience and the refugee’s stories with her bank.
“This is so close to my heart,” Edgarian said. “I’m going to be involved a lot more. I will help [the refugees] any way I can, whether financially or otherwise.”