25 Ways you can meaningfully help refugees, by Holly Richardson

Help refugees for Pioneer Day and beyond!

As we reflect on the Mormon Pioneers who fled from religious persecution so many years ago, we also think about the thousands of people fleeing from the same or worse across the world every day today. Last week we posted about great organizations in Utah helping refugees that could use your support. This week we asked Holly Richardson, former state legislator and veteran volunteer at refugee camps across the world (check out her latest column in the SL Trib here), what we can all do to help refugees here in Utah and beyond. Here are her suggestions.

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
– Edward Everett Hale

As the world’s refugee crisis continues to get worse, more and more individuals – people like you – are asking what they can do to help. Thank you for your willingness to make a difference in someone’s life.

One of the big questions, of course, is “what can I do?” Don’t worry – there is plenty you can do, whether you have 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days or 5 weeks.

If you can go on a volunteer trip, take that opportunity! They are life-changing but we know not everyone can cross an ocean to spend a week or a month or more in refugee camps.

There are so many opportunities close to home that everyone can help in some way. Connect with a local organization you would like to help and find out what their needs are. It’s a bit sad for everyone if you spend time, money and effort on something that is not needed. With that caveat, here are some ideas:

  1. Sew bears or dolls for Dolls of Hope to send to refugee camps.
  2. Put together hygiene kits.
  3. Put together school kits in new backpacks.
  4. Put together birth/newborn kits.
  5. Organize a new car seat drive for hospitals to give to refugee parents.
  6. Start an online fundraising campaign and share with your friends and neighbors to support your chosen organization.
  7. Reach out to refugees in your local community and get to know them.
  8. Become a mentor to a refugee or refugee family.
  9. Help a refugee family learn to navigate U.S. grocery stores.
  10. Help refugees learn to create a resume and assist them in finding a job.
  11. Learn and share what you know about the refugee crisis.
  12. Speak up against intolerance, bigotry and bias.
  13. Organize a fundraising dinner in your local community.
  14. Support local businesses run by refugees.
  15. Learn and share stories of refugees.
  16. Furnish an apartment for a new refugee family.
  17. Volunteer to tutor a refugee in English.
  18. Help a refugee family register their children for school.
  19. Invite a refugee family to dinner.
  20. Be politically active and lobby for support for refugees.
  21. Send letters to the editor of your local paper in support of refugees.
  22. Use social media to spread messages of support, to raise awareness and to fundraise.
  23. Become a foster family for unaccompanied refugee children, usually teens.
  24. Help refugee kids get involved in community sports. Consider coaching a team.
  25. Speak to school or church groups about refugees.

Mother Teresa said “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that drop.” Together, drop by drop, we can change the world.

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