International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Gearing up for Light One Candle!

November will be upon us before we know it. With it, the festivities of the holiday season will commence. At the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City, we are gearing up for Light One Candle, a holiday donation drive committed to providing refugee families and individuals with home necessities and other gifts. By pairing community sponsors with refugees, the holiday season gives the community the opportunity to brighten the lives of refugees. 

  1. Decide the number of individuals you or your group would like to sponsor.
  2. Contact Donations Coordinator, Jesse Sheets, at 801-883-8457 or by email at He will match you or your group with a refugee family or individual(s). You will then be sent a wishlist and cultural background information for each family or individual.
  3. Buy new or like-new items to fulfill the a portion of wishlist or you can choose to fulfill the entire wishlist.
  4. Deliver wishlist items, unwrapped, to the IRC office in downtown Salt Lake City between November 16th and December 11th. Gift bags and other wrapping supplies will be accepted with wishlist deliveries. Deliveries can be made on weekdays between 9am and 5pm to our downtown office located at 221 S 400 W.
  5. If you would like to be part of the distribution event, please discuss this option with our Donations Coordinator sooner rather than later—there are limited spaces available to participate with the December 19th distribution day.

If you would like to get involved as a volunteer, there will be many opportunities to volunteer at wrapping and sorting parties in the weeks leading up to the distribution event. Please contact Amy Meyer at



How much should I budget per person?

Each refugee family and individual will create a wishlist. The sponsor is responsible to fulfill a portion or the entirety of the wishlist. Last year, the average amount spent per individual was $100. 

I'd like to donate, but I don't think I'll be able to sponsor a family. What should I do?

There are many items IRC uses to ensure each family receives an equal number of gifts. We encourage donors to purchase gift cards for large chain stores, like Walmart, Smith's, or Target (amounts between $20 and $50 preferred). Personal hygiene items, home cleaning supplies, and baby items are always accepted and welcome, new or unused.

Can I donate used items?

Yes you may. We use the terms "gently used" or "like-new" to remind people to give items that are still in working condition and aren't showing too much wear. We hope that each family or individual will receive new items, but your gently used items are important to us too.

Is food/alcohol an acceptable gift?

Because a large number of IRC clients have different dietary restrictions dictated by their culture, religion, or health needs, we discourage donors from giving food as a gift. Alcohol is not acceptable.

Can my family deliver gifts to the refugee family or individual we sponsor?

Each year, there are a limited number of refugee families and individuals that are included in the distribution event based on the apartment complexes chosen to participate in the event. Please understand that we make our best efforts to include as many sponsors in the distribution event, but we are not able to include everyone. 

Will the gifts I purchase for the refugee family or individual go to the specified family?

Yes. All gifts purchased for a specific refugee family will be given to that family; although, IRC will distribute additional/duplicate gifts at our discretion. 

Since all refugees come from outside the U.S., are there sensitive cultural issues I need to be aware of?

For some donors, Light One Candle is something they do to celebrate the holidays. While many refugee families might share the same religious and/or cultural beliefs as the donor they're matched with, it is just as possible that they will come from a completely different background. Please keep this in mind as you are selecting gifts and sharing messages. Religious gifts and messaging should be avoided.

Are the items I donate tax deductible?

Yes. The items you donate through Light One Candle count as in-kind donations. We will send you a standard in-kind donation receipt which will list the donated items (if you supplied us with an itemized list), but will not assign them a dollar value. For tax purposes, we are only able to list the items, but you may assign a value to them for your own tax purposes. Save those receipts!

While we don't assign the items a value in your receipt, it is critical for funding purposes that you provide us with copies of receipts from all your purchases. Doing so helps the IRC meet critical reporting requirements and allows us to access funds to help refugees find jobs, stay housed and access transportation.

Further Questions? Please contact our Donations Coordinator at

Thank you for supporting newly arrived refugees this holiday season!