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Backpacks and coats for refugees

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Eielnata with her new backpack as she begins school in Baltimore. Photo: Raika Jones/IRC

When Eielnata started first grade in a local elementary school this fall, she had a new backpack filled with school supplies. Although this may seem like a small thing, toward the end of the summer the youth program at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) was in a difficult position. Over fifty students had arrived in the preceding months, and our supply of backpacks and supplies had nearly run out.

Providing backpacks and supplies is a key way to support new students as they start school in the U.S. for the first time. Over the years, the IRC has worked with many community groups and individuals to provide new backpacks and other needed items to support refugees and immigrants as they start school in Baltimore.

The IRC works closely with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MIMA) in Baltimore to support immigrant communities. When faced with the backpack shortage in August, IRC reached out to MIMA. MIMA’s deputy director Katie Miller located supplies from a city event and also connected the IRC with the Baltimore-Metropolitan District of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church, a group that had already been collecting school supplies for immigrants in Baltimore.

In only a few weeks, over sixty backpacks were delivered to the IRC office and distributed to new students and families. When asked why her congregation decided to get involved and support immigrants in Baltimore, the Reverend Bonnie McCubbin shared that their faith unites “belief and work, faith and justice.” She explained that by “participating in providing for the needs and services for our neighbors—regardless of where they were born or how they arrived in Baltimore,” she and others were putting their faith into action.

This action is inspired by words attributed to the founder of The United Methodist Church, John Wesley: "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."

The IRC is grateful for partnerships with faith and community groups that enable us to support refugees and immigrants in our communities. If your group is interested in partnering with us on a collection project, there are several ways to get involved. Our current needs include:  

Photo: Raika Jones/IRC
  1. Collect 30 (or more!) backpacks filled with school supplies: 10 elementary, 10 middle school, 10 high school. Backpacks may be gently used but supplies should be new. Please contact VolunteerBaltimore [at] Rescue.org (subject: Interested%20in%20backpack%20collection%20, body: *Please%20complete%20the%20following%20to%20help%20us%20process%20your%20request.%20Thank%20you%20for%20your%20interest%20in%20the%20IRC!%20%0A%0A1.%20Your%20name%3A%20%0A%0A2.%20How%20did%20you%20hear%20about%20the%20IRC%3F%0A%0A3.%20How%20many%20backpacks%20will%20you%20or%20your%20group%20plan%20to%20collect%3F%20What%20is%20the%20approx.%20date(s)%20the%20backpacks%20will%20be%20ready%20to%20deliver%20to%20the%20IRC%3F%20%0A%0A4.%20Have%20you%20or%20anyone%20in%20your%20group%20attended%20a%20monthly%20info%20session%20to%20learn%20more%20about%20IRC's%20work%20and%20volunteer%20opportunities%3F%20This%20is%20not%20required%20for%20a%20collection%20project%2C%20but%20encouraged!%20Upcoming%20info%20session%20dates%20are%20listed%20here%3A%20https%3A%2F%2Fwww.rescue.org%2Fvolunteer-opportunities%2Fbaltimore-md%0A%0A) if you are interested, to receive the school supply lists and to arrange a drop-off time. Our storage space is limited, so items should not be dropped off without an appointment.
  2. Collect 30 (or more!) new or gently used winter coats: 15 children sizes, 15 adult sizes. Other winter items (boots, hats, scarves, gloves) are also welcome. Please contact Ryan.Coster [at] Rescue.org (subject: Interested%20in%20coat%20collection%20project%20, body: *Please%20complete%20the%20following%20to%20help%20us%20process%20your%20request.%20Thank%20you%20for%20your%20interest%20in%20the%20IRC!%20%0A%0A1.%20Your%20name%3A%20%0A%0A2.%20How%20did%20you%20hear%20about%20the%20IRC%3F%0A%0A3.%20How%20many%20coats%20and%2For%20winter%20items%20will%20you%20or%20your%20group%20plan%20to%20collect%3F%20What%20is%20the%20approx.%20date(s)%20the%20items%20will%20be%20ready%20to%20deliver%20to%20the%20IRC%3F%20%0A%0A4.%20Have%20you%20or%20anyone%20in%20your%20group%20attended%20a%20monthly%20info%20session%20to%20learn%20more%20about%20IRC's%20work%20and%20volunteer%20opportunities%3F%20This%20is%20not%20required%20for%20a%20collection%20project%2C%20but%20encouraged!%20Upcoming%20info%20session%20dates%20are%20listed%20here%3A%20https%3A%2F%2Fwww.rescue.org%2Fvolunteer-opportunities%2Fbaltimore-md) if you are interested and to arrange a drop-off time. Our storage space is limited, so items should not be dropped off without an appointment.
  3. Join the Welcome Home Project to collect, store, deliver and set up all the household items needed to prepare an apartment for a newly arriving family. This is a great project for a small group or family! Kids are welcome to join with adults.
  4. Purchase from our Amazon Wishlist or review our Donation Guidelines for other needed items.