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Three ways to support refugees and asylum-seekers over the holidays

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Our 2020 Holiday Giving Guide:

Shop handmade Middle Eastern-inspired fashion by Mays, an Iraqi refugee. Photo: Zahra Designs

The IRC in San Diego's Holiday Giving Guide gives you three ways to support refugees, immigrants, and asylum-seekers in San Diego this winter, including opportunities to shop refugee-owned businesses at our Holiday Bazaar plus a virtual option to send a warm welcome to families in need.

Support refugee business owners and shop local for your holiday gifts on Small Business Saturday 

In honor of Small Business Saturday on November 28th, we've compiled a list of our small business clients that reflect the entrepreneurship, innovation, and diversity of San Diego.  #ShopIRCSBDC using our business directory to  see how you can support small businesses in San Diego. From ordering take out from an authentic eatery to getting your clothes tailored by a refugee business owner to supporting Black-owned businesses, you can show your support for your community by shopping small all year round. Meet some of our featured #ShopIRCSBC vendors:​ 

Sham Art, founded by a Syrian refugee and artisan based in El Cajon, sells custom handmade wood work and art decor. Photo: Sham Art Photo: Sham Art

Shop clothes and face masks with Zahra Designs: Mays, a former refugee from Iraq, is the designer and entrepreneur behind Zahra Designs, named after her late mother. Zahra Designs offers beautiful, hand-crafted t-shirts, abayas, face masks and wallets that are inspired by Middle Eastern art. Mays said, "as a designer and personal stylist, I would like to share my design of the abaya (similar to a kimono), hand painted t-shirts and accessories with you. I am proud of my cultural heritages, designs made with honor and love." To shop Zahra Designs, visit their Etsy store here

Shop art with Sham Art: Founder and artisan, Mohammad Al-Bawab opened up Sham Art, named after his hometown of Damascus (Sham in Arabic), as an online store that offers unique wood work and art, featuring traditional Syrian designs as well as customized signage, prints, and art decor. Visit their Facebook page for more information.​ 

To support other small businesses that reflect the diversity of San Diego, visit our small business directory here


Send a family in need a warm welcome this winter: 

Provide newly arrived refugee and asylum-seeking families with a warm welcome this winter.

From now until December 31st, our Winter Welcome campaign provides an opportunity to send refugee families in need with essential items such as winter coats and blankets through Target wish lists. You can also opt to donate a gift card to give families the ability to purchase the items they need most on their own. 

How it works:

1. Register to be a part of our Winter Welcome campaign here. Sign up individually or as part of a group!

2. You will receive an email from our team with information about a family in need and how to help with a wish list or a gift card donation. 

3. For wish list items, please include an itemized list of donations and copies of receipts to us via email. Please save your receipts, so that the IRC can issue you a tax receipt once the items are received.  


Join us for IRC's second annual Holiday Bazaar on December 5th: 

Co-hosted by MAKE Projects and the IRC Small Business Development Center (IRC SBDC). Photo: IRC Make Projects

Presenting feel-good holiday and socially distant market featuring makers from around the world, the bazaar will showcase local artisans offering apparel, jewelry, and handmade gifts for sale. Visitors can browse and shop to afro-pop tunes spun live by DJ Ital, enjoy free tours of the adjacent Youth FarmWorks job-training garden, and purchase tasty holiday beverages and baked goods by MAKE Café. An accompanying art exhibit, Uniting Cultures, will offer a deeper look at the work of three IRC SBDC clothing designers who incorporate cultural design traditions from their home countries into modern products that span a wide audience. Reserve your spot here