Imagine you had to flee your home because your family was under attack. Imagine that when you left, you’d be travelling to an unknown destination, for an uncertain period of time, and you’d be making the journey on foot. What would you carry with you?
When JFS meets resettling refugees at the airport, they usually arrive with all their worldly possessions in only a small bag or two. “Many of our clients come from climates very different than ours, and they’re not prepared for our colder seasons,” explained Margaret Hinson, Director of Refugee & Immigrant Services.
The first-ever JFS Coat Drive for Resettled Refugees, kicking off in November, aims to fill this gap. Community donations will help outfit men, women and children with the new, warm, waterproof or water-resistant coats they need to stay warm and healthy through a Puget Sound winter.
Refugees may not have a lot of luggage when they arrive in the U.S., but they do have a lot of startup costs. Getting an apartment requires application fees, a security deposit, and first and last months’ rent. Then there are the costs of furniture and furnishings. Although, JFS manages resettlement grant money on behalf of its clients, the $1,125 per person does not go very far, especially in our region’s skyrocketing rental market.
In addition, refugees begin their American lives with a debt. As condition of entry to the U.S., they sign a promissory note to the government, agreeing to begin repaying the cost of their airfare at about the six-month mark following arrival. “Even though at least one person in the household usually has a job by this point, the high cost of living here and repayment obligation make things very tight for our families. There is no wiggle room,” described Hinson.
No wiggle room means no money for the kind of coat that keeps out the rain while waiting for the bus to work, or blocks the wind while walking home from the grocery. “Quality warm coats are often not available at the low-cost and second-hand stores where our clients shop. The need for these items exceeds what is available,” said Hinson.
With your donation of new, warm, waterproof or water-resistant coats during the JFS Coat Drive for Resettled Refugees, you can help adults and children meet a basic need in way that respects their dignity.
What should I donate?
New, warm, waterproof or water-resistant, winter coats. We need children’s, women’s and men’s. Small and medium are the most needed sizes, but we can also use a few large.
What are the donation drop-off details?
Wednesday, November 15 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, November 16 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 19 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Who do I contact if I have questions?
Please contact Lauren Sewell at (206) 861-3153.
Any suggestions about where to purchase new coats?
By Deb Frockt
Deb Frockt is Director of Marketing & Communications. She enjoys baking, beaching and learning about golf, both kinds of football, fashion and pop music from her husband and sons.