The International Rescue Committee’s Abilene office is accepting donations for a donation fair March 11.
The IRC, a nongovernmental organization focused on global humanitarian aid, relief and development, is looking for gently used household items to help refugees better establish their new lives here.
Katie Tan, volunteer coordinator, said when families first arrive the IRC is able to provide the necessities – one cup and plate per person, one towel, etc. – because the individuals can bring only a few belongings from overseas. Otherwise, these families rely on donations from the community to furnish their homes.
“A donation fair’s goal is to give clients extra items, things they may not have the funds to buy themselves yet,” she said. “These include decorative items, paintings and pictures, small electronics, bicycles, small furniture and TVs.”
The fair will serve about 20 families, many of which arrived in the past six months from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bhutan or Iraq.
Chandler Gum, senior English major from Boerne, has helped distribute necessities for several new arrival families since starting her internship with the IRC in January.
“I’m just seeing how important it was to them, how important it is to them to find the right clothing for school and church, and just to fit into this new culture,” Gum said. “It’s also just empowering them and making them feel like they belong, to really allow them to more than just survive this environment but thrive and enjoy it.”
Items like clothing, shoes, books or board games are not accepted as donation because of limited space and the fact that most of the clients can’t read English, Tan said.
Other accepted items for the fair include gently used twin and full sheet sets, comforters and towels.
The IRC is accepting the donations at its offices on North Third Street Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. until March 10.
For a full list of accepted donations, contact Tan at 325-675-5643.