31 October

Sneak Peek: Bishop Maginn Amazon Thanksgiving Basket Refugee Wish List

by Jon Katz

The refugees from Myanmar and Syria have had a tough time in their lives and since they arrived here. We have been a great help to them through the pandemic; nobody died, and nobody starved.

Every refugee child who wanted to go to college went, and eight exceptionally gifted refugee children are in excellent private schools with full tuition paid.

Now, a new challenge.  The Afghan refugees, newly arrived, are both in shock and great need. We have a chance to greet them warmly and give them a look at the heart of real America.

The Bishop Maginn  Refugee Thanksgiving Basket Wish List is up, and I’m offering the Army of Good a four-day jump on the official launch date. You deserve it.

This Wish List is for all the refugees – including the new arrivals from Afghanistan, went up tonight. The official Wish List publication day is Wednesday, but I didn’t want to wait. Or better put, I can’t wait.

We hope to give the new refugees and the old some help and support celebrating the most American holiday, Thanksgiving. There are 18 items, ranging in price from $9.99 to $20.99. The new arrivals own nothing but the clothes on their backs.

The idea is to give them the ingredients to make their own Thanksgiving dinner. It’s also to make them feel welcome in America, something that is more of a challenge than it ought to be.

Almost all refugees struggle to acclimate to this strange and turbulent country.

Still, the Afghan refugees are hit especially hard as the refugee support infrastructure built up over the years was dismantled by the Trump administration, who sought to exclude almost all refugees from our country.

Many of these new refugees risked their lives to help America, I wish we could do more for them. We do the best we can for as long as we can.

The support system is weaker and more poorly funded than ever. They are starting from scratch. We can help a bit.

We are working with grocery stores to get turkey certificates given directly to Bishop Maginn  High School, collecting the Thanksgiving basket supplies, assembling them, and distributing them.

The items are all geared towards Thanksgiving feasts and dinners, the first for many.

It’s a great welcome for new Americans, we owe them much more.

They will also be given the choice of a turkey from a grocery chain or these Thanksgiving Basket gifts or both if the chains come through.

The Wish List gifts range from stovetop stuffing mix and potatoes to green beans, biscuit mix, tote bags, Jell-O, cheese sauce, and Thanksgiving butter mint candies.

You get the idea. This is an Amazon Wish list, which means you choose an item, one at a time, add it to your shopping cart, pay for it, and it will automatically be shipped to Bishop Maginn High School.

No middlemen, no administrators. The items are all listed in small multiples, but you can purchase them one at a time, or just one.

You can buy as much or as little as you want, and you know precisely what you are buying and where it is going. This will be the Army Of Good’s 27th wish list and one of the most significant, I think.

You shouldn’t need the address, but here it is if you want it: Thanksgiving Basket Campaign Bishop Maginn High School, c/o Sue Silverstein, 75 Park Avenue, Albany, N.Y., 12202

If you don’t like shopping online, you can send me a donation via Paypal, [email protected], or Venmo, [email protected], and I’ll gladly make the purchases you want or that you delegate me to do.

You can also send a check to Jon Katz. Refugee Fund, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

This may be the most crucial Wish List of the year, a chance to show the new refugees and the present ones what the heart of America is truly about.  About 500 are coming to Albany, more every day.

I never feel more like a patriot when we make these wish lists; this is the true America, not the one you see on the news.

The items are up and available on Amazon now; you can go right to it if you wish. I thought the Army Of Good deserves the first crack.

Almost all of the items are multiple items, and the shipping is unpredictable, so it’s good to get started. We have a chance to be first on the list. I hope it’s sold out shortly.

You can see the wish list and purchase items right now and here.

And I thank you, as always, from the bottom of my heart.

(Photo: The Bishop Maginn High School Library, and Red my late therapy dog and companion.)


  1. but here is the thing . Many people have no idea what Thanksgiving is. They do not have the oven to cook this thing.
    We are doing anyone a favor if they do not know what to do with this donation. They are so much betterer with a gift card.

    1. That’s the thing, indeed Joan. The baskets only go to people who ask for them and want them, they are not forced on anyone. We have given some every year, and they are much appreciated. The waiting list is a mile long. If you are uncomfortable with this, you ought to skip it, obviously. And the idea is for them to have both, a cooked, warm turkey to eat and the trimmings if they wish.

      Gift certificates are also being offered to them, they come from other places for now. We are just helping with the food, which is what they requested. Some of these refugees are here for their fourth and fifth THanksgiving, and they certainly know what it is, perhaps more than many Americans. The new ones will learn very quickly if history means anything.

      A time of Thanksgiving has great resonance to most refugees. It’s not complicated. The originators of this program – I am now one of them – have been working closely with refugees for years now, and we know quite well what they need and want.

      I know gift cards are what you and your group are doing, that doesn’t mean they have to be the only thing everyone else is doing. I’ve seen some wonderful Thanksgivings in this program. Good luck with your good work. I wouldn’t presume to tell you what you should be doing.

      P.S. I was just reminded that all refugees coming into the country must first learn about American holidays and traditions. That, I suppose, is why all the refugees I meet know about Thanksgiving.

    2. The key is that whatever they wish, or get……is food! Something that may not be familar to them, but it will feed their needy families and that is the point!
      Susan M.

      1. Yes, exactly. I have a rule I’ve never broken in my work at the Mansion or Bishop Maginn. I always ask people what they want, I never tell them what they want.

        We are working now on several fronts – raising money for bedding and warm clothes, offering them food for Thanksgiving baskets, and gathering gift certificates from corporations. If we don’t get enough, I’ll try fund-raising for them myself. The Bishop Maginn people are amazing, they see and work with these people and their children every day, they know what they are doing. They have taught me so much. We have also made certain every refugee in the Bishop Maginn community has enough food for their families. Nobody goes hungry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Email SignupFree Email Signup