-By Downtown DEI

Frigid temperatures and biting wind didn’t stop a group of local families from gathering together in Horatio Park to assemble toiletry kits for newly arrived asylum seeking students and their families. Fueled by hot cocoa, coffee, and the spirit of giving, participants worked together to assemble fifty toiletry kits that each included: a handwritten welcome note in Spanish, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. 

Photo courtesy Yodit Walker

The event, “Thanksgiving Give Back,” organized by a newly formed community group, Downtown DEI, took place Sunday, November 20th at Horatio Playground, Corporal John A. Seravalli Playground. 

The group’s mission is “to be a welcoming group that advocates for diversity and inclusion in our community, and advances a culture of belonging by cultivating a safe, enriching, anti-racist, non-discriminatory environment for the downtown community.” 

The group decided on the Thanksgiving Giveback as they felt it addressed a pressing need in our local community. According to District Two Superintendent Kelly McGuire, in an October CEC Economic Need Committee Meeting, District Two is home to roughly 300-350 students classified as asylum seekers, though he clarified it’s an ever changing number. Many of these students attend local schools, including Morton Middle School and PS3. 

Donations were solicited through word of mouth, posts in Next Door, local parenting groups, local BuyNothing groups, and more. And boy did the community deliver!  In addition to the contents of the fifty toiletry kits, the group received donations including:800 feminine care products, one hundred pairs of underwear/bras, seventy pairs of socks, and various other items. In addition to the community donations, Bombas sock company donated 1000 pairs of socks to the efforts! 

Photo courtesy Yodit Walker

The majority of donations will be sent to Morton Middle School and PS 3, with any remaining socks from the Bombas windfall distributed to shelters for asylum seekers and other local schools. 

If you’d like to keep apprised of future events and gatherings, either as a participant, organizer, or supporter, you can email to be added to the mailing list. The group meets every other Friday morning via Zoom and all are welcome.“We’d love to have as many people join our efforts as possible,” said Jenny Young, a local resident and one of the group’s founding members. “It felt really powerful to have an event where we could come together to support the recent refugees and are looking forward to seeing what we can do together as our group grows.” 

Leave a Reply