On a chilly day in November, IRC staff and volunteers meet three buses parked outside the Food Lion. Dozens of seventh and eighth grade students from Tandem Friends School skip out of the store, pushing carts full of milk, apples, rice, and frozen okra, to name a few things. They have just completed purchasing food they will delivery to six local refugee families. This generous donation is the culmination of a multi-week project in which the students earned money, researched budgets, and learned about the journey refugees take to come to the US.
Working with the students, IRC staff identified six recently-arrived families that could greatly benefit from receiving these donations. IRC staff provided the students with a list of culturally-appropriate food choices to guide the students as they prepared their shopping budgets. As part of the IRC’s food secure resettlement mandate, IRC insures that newly-arriving families live near a grocery store and have access to nutritious and culturally-appropriate food choices.
The students worked in teams assigned to each family, decorating boxes and writing cards of welcome to deliver with the groceries. Each team was escorted to their family’s home with a representative from the IRC to make their gift, just in time for the families to celebrate their first Thanksgiving. The students plan to make a second delivery in December as well.
"Partnering with the IRC was a perfect opportunity for our students to gain a better understanding for why people seek refuge," says Christine Putnam, instructor at Tandem Friends School. "The act of writing welcome cards, shopping for food and delivering it to the IRC families created a connection that was real and memorable. The smiles, handshakes, and short conversations shared with the IRC family members have opened our eyes to the people who live in our town, that might have otherwise been unknown to us."
The IRC does not typically accept donations of food. However, if you would like to support IRC families this holiday season, please consider donating a gift card for a local grocery store. For more information about holiday giving, please contact Diana Cole Connolly, Development Coordinator, at Diana.Connolly [at] rescue.org or +1 434 979 7772 x 114.