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Refugee families receive boost from car seat donations

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It’s hard enough to travel throughout the Central Valley without owning a car. But imagine not even being able to use Lyft or Uber taxi services because you don’t own a car seat to transport your children safely. That’s a challenge that many refugee families who live in the Turlock/Modesto area face on a daily basis.

On November 20, nearly a dozen IRC refugee families received a major hand up after receiving Graco car seats obtained through a grant secured by the Safe Kids Stanislaus Coalition. Volunteer child passenger seat technicians demonstrated how to safely install the seats during an event hosted in the Turlock Police Department parking lot.

Safe Kids Stanislaus Coalition, a division of Safe Kids Worldwide, is led by Doctors Medical Center of Modesto, providing staff, operational support and other resources to assist in achieving safety for children. The group regularly organizes car seat installation and education events in Stanislaus County.

Rena Lepard, Injury Prevention Program Coordinator for Safe Kids Stanislaus, considered Monday's car seat event a success. She noted that 69 percent of car seats are installed inaccurately in Stanislaus County, and her organization was glad to provide IRC clients with accurate information about car seat safety. 

"We were happy to supply the seats to those in need, as well as give education to prevent carseat misuse," Lepard said. "The families were very engaged, eager to learn and appreciative."

In addition to the volunteers organized by Safe Kids Stanislaus, IRC volunteers and interns helped transport clients and assist with event logistics, and several community members loaned their car seats to help safely transport refugee clients to Turlock Police Department. Chipotle Mexican Grill, a local and national partner to the IRC, also provided support by donating burritos to feed volunteers.

Jim Stokes, site supervisor for the IRC's Turlock/Modesto offices, noted that the child passenger seat event not only provided refugee clients with new car seats and helpful information about how to install them, it also was a great occasion for refugees to have positive interactions with law enforcement.

“It was great to see our families interacting with both community members and the police," Stokes said. "Everybody seemed comfortable with one another and the kids were so well-behaved!”