20 March

Low On Food: First Gift Cards Shipped Out To Refugees

by Jon Katz

I’m told that food is already becoming a problem for the refugee students (and some inner-city students)  Bishop Maginn High) and their parents because of the school’s closing and the business shutdown regarding the virus.

They are going through the care packages we sent them last week. More and more of their parents are losing their jobs and salaries. We are trying to help them by distributing Price Chopper (their local store) Gift Cards.

Many of the refugee parents are hourly wage workers – they clean floors in office buildings, hospitals, and hotels, most often for minimum wage. The lucky ones get to work at Wal-Mart.

They are losing their jobs, and money was already tight or non-existent.

These are people who lost everything in a series of genocides, civil wars, and religious persecutions. The federal subsidies that use to help them transition have mostly all be slashed.

If you visit their homes you see families sleeping on blankets on the floor because they can’t afford heating oil. And some of the kids were skipping breakfast and lunch.

And they have little money for food or groceries.

Their children depend on the school for many things – friendship, learning, shelter, warmth, and the snacks and meals the teachers give them and that we have sent.

It is very hard on them to be confined at home (we are buying as many laptops as we can to help those students with no computers), especially without computers.

We are running out of food for care packages, and they can’t come into the school at all now. And probably not for weeks.

So today, I overnighted a package of about $1,000 worth of Price Chopper Gift Cards, Price Chopper is the supermarket closest to the refugee families. More cards are on the way to me,  we can use all the cards we can get, this situation is only going to get worse as the coronavirus crisis continues.

Thanks for your generosity.

You can see and buy the gift cards here. Since the school mail is unpredictable right now, and gift cards cannot be sent to a post office box, they need to be sent to me, and I’ll get them to Sue Silverstein and the teachers.

We can’t buy food for everybody in need, but we can keep these Bishop Maginn students eating healthy and nutritious food during this very difficult time.  We can help their families too.

The virus crisis is about the worst thing that could happen to these students and their parents right now. Thanks for helping.

The gift cards sell for $25, $50, $75, $100 or any larger amount. But they need to be sent to me at Jon Katz, 2502 State Route 22, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. Sue Silverstein and Maria teamed up to forbid me to drive into Albany, so I mailed them overnight. I’ll do the same as they come in.

If you wish to support the laptop program, you can also contribute via Paypal, [email protected] or by check, Jon Katz, Refugee Computers, P.O.Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. I’m buying Acer 15″ Chrome laptops with Blue Tooth and Wi-Fi for $238.

Every day without computers for some of these children is a day without learning, a day of falling behind.

Thanks for your support.

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