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How to Support Refugees and Asylees

There are currently more than 60,000 people in the New York City shelter systemincluding the thousands of asylum seekers who have been bused to New York over the past few months. These asylum seekers came to the United States with virtually no material possessions, and they arrived in New York via long and overnight bus trips, often having not eaten a real meal in days. 

Our BJ community has long been committed to supporting refugees and asylees, and it’s no time to stay silent on this crisis. 

Here are just a few ways you can help meet some of their most pressing, immediate needs:

Meals for asylum seekers 

Our longtime justice partners at the Church of Saint Paul and Saint Andrew (SPSA) are currently housing five asylum seekers who arrived in New York last month, who are in need of daily meals. We need volunteers to bring SPSA’s guests breakfast or dinner, which can be a home-cooked meal or purchased from a store or restaurant. Sign up here.

Donate welcome backpacks and winter clothing 

Welcome backpacks are packages of daily necessities, which will be distributed to newly arrived asylum seekers on an ongoing basis. We need volunteers to help put together completed backpacks or to order the requested supplies in bulk and to drop them off at BJ. Click here to see the requested items.

As the weather gets colder, coats and other winter clothes are essential for folks who recently arrived from warmer places and may not have any cold-weather attire. Please donate only new or very gently used coats and winter clothing. 

Please drop off items or completed backpacks only during the following days/times: 

  • Monday, November 7, 9:30 AM-6:00 PM
  • Tuesday, November 8, 5:00 PM-6:00 PM (at 88th Street during Kadima pick-up)
  • Wednesday, November 9, 9:30 AM-7:00 PM
  • Thursday, November 10, 9:30 AM-7:00 PM

Sort and organize welcome backpacks 

Join us on Sunday morning, November 13 (after our Back Home Shabbaton), to help sort and pack backpacks and other care packages. We need your help!

Support our partner refugee family 

BJ is sponsoring a refugee family from Guatemala via a partnership initiative with HIAS-NY. The family of three, including a young child, arrived in July and are well on their way to becoming self-sufficient. But there is still so much more we need to do to support them! 

Consider making a gift to the BJ Fund to Support Refugees, Asylees and Immigrants, which will allow us to continue supporting not only this family but will also enable us to share our resources with other immigrants. 

Items for welcome backpacks

1 7-oz (ish) shaving cream
Temporary razors
Tums or generic chewable antacids (in individual packets)
Tylenol or generic (in individual packets)
Spanish-English pocket dictionary
2 pairs of adult-size white socks
2 travel-size toothpastes
2 travel-size shampoos
2 travel-size conditioners
1 Chapstick
1 Pack of sugar-free gum
2 granola bars
2 packs of peanuts/nuts
2 packs of dried fruit/trail mix
Travel pack of Band-Aids
1 Small hairbrush
1 Travel-size deodorant
1 quick dry hand towel
1 quick dry wash cloth
1 3-oz body wash
1 pack wet wipes or flushable wipes
Travel hand sanitizer
1 nail clipper
$22 metrocard
$20 bill

Written By Kiana Davis

Kiana Davis is the Social Action/Social Justice manager at BJ. She previously worked at the Safety Net Project of the Urban Justice Center as a Policy Analyst and Public Benefits Advocate, and at t...

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