Local News

Rutland Welcomes plans donation drive for refugees

RUTLAND—Rutland Welcomes, a group of citizens working to create a warm, safe, inviting atmosphere for potential refugees, recently announced that it will host a donation drive next Saturday, Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rutland United Methodist Church. The organization is now seeking donations from the community, specifically, household items in good, clean, working condition.
Marsha Cassel, one of the Rutland Welcomes volunteers coordinating the drive, said most refugees left virtually everything behind as they fled their homes, so donations will help outfit apartments just before each family arrives.
“We are seeking household items any family would need when moving into a new apartment–with the exception of mattresses, pillows and box springs,” Cassel said. Clothing, with the exception of winter clothing, is not being collected. “We are seeking winter coats, jackets, hats, mittens, gloves and boots of all size, for children and adults,” Cassel said.  “Because they would represent the vast majority, women’s and children’s items are especially needed,”she said.
All donations are tax deductible through collaboration with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Project. Receipts will be available.
“People throughout the region have been asking how they can help for months,” Cassel said. “This is an opportunity to make a contribution to help welcome our new neighbors and ease their transition.”
The U.S. State Department is expected to decide within weeks whether Rutland will become a host site for resettlement. If approved, the first refugees would likely arrive in late fall. If Rutland were not selected, all donated items would be provided to other host communities.
Rutland Welcomes includes nearly 20 committees, which are focused on everything from assisting with health care and teaching English to mentorship and introductions into the greater Rutland community.
“It’s hard to imagine the fear and turmoil people have faced, but it’s easy to imagine ways to help them,” volunteer Hunter Berryhill said. “We expect the donation drive will be the first of many opportunities to help, while building and strengthening community bonds.”
To learn more about Rutland Welcomes or how to donate household goods, visit rutlandwelcomes.org.

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