Category Archives: Donations for Refugees

A New Way to Move: Bike program partnership gives wheels to Somali youth

Riding bikes in the summertime has to be one of the most quintessential childhood experiences in Minnesota, and a new partnership between Refugee Services Mankato and Key City Bikes opened up that opportunity for Somali children in Mankato. Key City Bikes is a local non-profit with a variety of programs and a strong reputation in the community. Among other things, they are known as a donation site for used bikes, which they then fix and make available to community members. They also host an annual Earn-a-Bike project  ( where 14-20 year olds have the opportunity to learn about bike maintenance and earn their own bike and accessories at the completion of the program. When there were a few openings left for their spring session, Key City Bikes reached out to Refugee Services Mankato to see if any families we knew might be interested in participating. Community Navigator Jaffer Mohamud reached … Continue reading

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Donor Profile: Mindy and Steve

We often share the stories of refugee families who we’ve welcomed, but we wanted to take an opportunity to share about a couple of the people who make our work possible—individual donors! Meet Mindy and Steve. Steve has worked in the financial services industry for 32 years and Mindy works at Lifetime Fitness. They have three young adult children and are longtime members of University Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Mindy recalls first becoming interested in refugees when her church co-sponsored a Karen refugee family through MCC Refugee Services in 2002. The family they befriended included a single mom and her 6 school age boys. The family arrived in August, and Mindy stepped in to help with a whirlwind of school registrations and orientation. Mindy recalls being awed by how well this family managed, diving right into their new life and she reflected that it gave her a different perspective on … Continue reading

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6 refugees, 2 suitcases. Help needed to furnish homes!

People pack less and less these days when they go on vacation. But how many bags would you take if you had to move across the world and knew you’d never come back? For Ali, his wife Zainab, and their four sons, two small bags held all their belongings after having fled Somalia. Now, after decades in a refugee camp, they arrived here in Minnesota last week, their new home. Ali and Zainab are among the dozens of families who are arriving this summer in Minnesota. With so few belongings, these refugees need a variety of things to set up their first American home, and to start their new life here. Right now, Refugee Services needs YOUR help, and new or gently used household items. Together, we can give each of these newcomers the warm welcome they deserve. We are in particular need of: Blankets/comforters Dining tables and chairs Dressers … Continue reading

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Design With Purpose: First round a success!

What would it feel like to walk into an apartment in a new country after days of travel—only to find it empty? In March and April, two different student groups made sure that this didn’t happen when they took up the “Design With Purpose” Challenge, collecting items and furnishing a total of 3 apartments for newly arriving refugee families in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Design With Purpose is an opportunity for groups to volunteer and set up apartments for newly arriving refugees. Refugees have escaped incredible circumstances to create a new life in Minnesota. Often, they’ve lived in a refugee camp for years, or even decades. When they step off the plane in Minnesota, not only are they exhausted from a long trip, they’re entering a completely foreign environment. Walking into a lovingly furnished apartment makes families feel like they’ve finally arrived somewhere safe. After seeing how much love and … Continue reading

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Spring Sprucing: Cleaning supplies needed to welcome new refugee families

After the bitter chill of winter, Mae Lay Mu is ready to throw the windows wide open in her apartment and feel the fresh air infuse her home. Mae Lay Mu arrived in Minnesota with her husband and children during January and felt cooped up in their new home. Now that the weather is warming and birds are singing, Mae Lay Mu is ready for a change. She loves her new apartment but realized that the dirt and winter road salt had left her home gritty and in need of a spring cleaning. Determined to get her home looking and feeling as fresh as the weather outside, Mae Lay Mu set to work with her broom, all-purpose cleaner, vinegar, baking soda, bucket, and cleaning rags, all provided by generous donors to MCC Refugee Services. Can you help a new refugee like Mae Lay Mu spruce up their new home for … Continue reading

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Computer Donation Program Endures

If you have ever searched for a job in the United States you know how long and exhausting the process can be. You probably used a computer to search for jobs, create your resume, write a cover letter, and possibly to fill out online job applications. In fact, a computer could arguably be one of the most important tools in your job search. Can you imagine how different the process might be if you had never used a computer before and didn’t have one of your own to use? For refugees coming to America this is often the case. Not having a computer at home can greatly slow down the job-seeking process and make it more difficult to become computer literate. Thanks to RenovoData Services and their CEO Frank Gustafson, 12 refugee families enrolled in MCC Employment Services will receive their own computer for their home! MCC Refugee Services formerly … Continue reading

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The Gift of Warmth

Every year, refugees arrive to Minnesota in light summer attire that is totally inadequate for our winters. MCC Refugee Services has coats on hand at the airport for winter arrivals, but for those who arrived in more temperate months, the onset of the winter chill comes long after their arrival. For these families, MCC Refugee Services holds an annual coat giveaway at the MN Church Center. Why is giving away coats so important? As we help people establish stable, self-sufficient lives in the Twin Cities, the “small” things—like feeling warm in the bitter winter cold—make a huge difference. When a refugee’s immediate needs for warmth and housing are met, they can better focus their energies, resourcefulness, and resilience on going to school, finding work, learning English, and adjusting to a new place, new people, and a new climate. This year’s coat giveaway was an exciting day, and as people streamed … Continue reading

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Making a House a Home

When was the last time you moved into a new home? You probably spent several weeks packing your belongings into boxes, then several more weeks unpacking them in your new place. By filling it with familiar and comforting objects, you made it a place you can truly call “home.” Most of us are fortunate in that we could bring items with which we were already familiar: a particular couch, poster, books, an instrument, dishes, and other things which, because of the memories and experiences they represent, reflect parts of ourselves. For new refugees coming to Minnesota arriving with just a few suitcases, however, there is almost nothing familiar with which to make an empty apartment into a home. Having left an entire life behind, the intimate space of a new home in the US can feel coldly strange. To truly extend a warm welcome to newly arriving refugees MCC Refugee … Continue reading

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Think Globally, Run Locally

  It’s time to lace up those old tennies…for the Think Globally, Run Locally 5K! Not a runner? No worries! There’s a 2 mile walk, too. The 5K Trail Run and 2 Mile Forest Walk at Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan is hosted by St. Anne’s Episcopal Church. Join us on October 1st at the Jensen Lake Trailhead—sign-in begins at 8:00am and the race is at 9:00am. How does this relate to us? The proceeds from the event will benefit refugee resettlement through MCC Refugee Services. This is the 3rd annual 5K that St. Anne’s has held, but the first one that will benefit MCC Refugee Services. We are thankful for this partnership and excited for an event that will bring everybody together. Learn more about St. Anne’s Episcopal Church by visiting their website. You are invited to register individually, as a team, or even a family! Register Now by … Continue reading

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