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 through the lobby the energy was palpable. Mothers combed through children’s coats while others tried on various coats and picked out hats and mittens. Overall, we saw close to 60 family representatives come through and we gave away almost 200 coats for men, women, and children!
A coat giveaway requires commitment, time, and energy. This year, close to 20 individuals and groups jumped on board to collect coats for refugee families. In particular, employees at Augsburg Fortress Publishers took on the challenge of collecting coats with zeal. In all, Augsburg Fortress delivered 56 coats to MCC Refugee Services for the coat giveaway event. How did they do it? By establishing a bit of friendly office competition, of course! “I wanted to come up with a way for Augsburg Fortress to be more involved with helping our community, and when I heard about MCC needing help with donations of coats, I thought it was the perfect way to help,” says organizer Jessie Neuman. “I am so blessed to work for an organization that sees the need for helping others…When Dawn came up with an incentive idea of making it a team challenge, the project just soared.”
Thanks to everyone who helped us make this a successful event, especially the volunteers who helped keep the event running smoothly! After the coat giveaway, we are especially in need of more children’s coats, both for new families who will be arriving in the next months and for those who did not get children’s coats during the giveaway—we ran out fast! If you have coats to donate, contact Green at (612)-230-3249 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To see more photos from the event check out our Facebook page.