(Above The contents of each Thanksgiving Basket for the incoming Afghan Refugees and the refugee families needing food relief in the Bishop Maginn High School community.)
It was a wonderful thing to see today—an almost sacred day.
A classroom stuffed with volunteers – refugee and inner-city children working hard and joyously to press the big and bulging Thanksgiving Baskets that will go to at least 50 families in the Albany, N.Y. area. I saw a river of good flowing from pure hearts in and out of the school, hour after hour. This country has so much good; I don’t believe anyone who says otherwise.
All kinds of food from noodles to muffins to cranberry sauce to puddings and potatoes and sauces and stuffings. Inside of every large bag, there is also a $25 gift certificate so each family can purchase a turkey if they wish or something else if they prefer.
Most families are eager to celebrate Thanksgiving, as they see it as a way of giving thanks for being in America. They are grateful to be here for all of the troubles they face; it is so vastly superior to the horrors and dangers that so many of them have faced.
The basket stuffing began just after 11 a.m. and ended at 1:30 p.m. The food was donated by the Army Of Good, Bishop Maginn Alumnae, and several community groups in the Albany area. Starting this afternoon, the refugees can come to the Bishop Maginn Free Store and pick up their baskets, or teachers and social workers will deliver the baskets to them.
This will not make it a joyous holiday for many of these refugees, who came here with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. But it will help.
The families are happy to see the toys that you have donated, more than $1,000 worth of books from the Army Of Good are arriving on Monday and Tuesday.
We can’t solve many of the enormous problems the refugees face in this country. Still, we can make sure no student or refugee family goes hungry, has no mattresses to sleep on, soap or deodorant or toilet paper, blankets and sleeping bags and comforters, or does not have enough money to buy healthy food for three meals a day.
Sue is once again giving warm breakfast cereal and snacks to her students who show up early on empty stomachs to get something to eat.
As always, Sue Silverstein did a fantastic job organizing the basket stuffing.
She had all of the donated food boxes on large shelves in the rear of the classroom. She and several students opened the boxes and distributed the food to other students, who carried them to students sitting at tables all over the room with a bag opened in front of them.
It sounded like a riot, but it worked smoothly.
As they were handed the boxes, the bags began to fill out, which worked like clockwork. Sue has a fantastic relationship with her students, and they worship her and listen to her. They didn’t need any cajoling. Many of the students are refugees themselves, and they jumped at the chance to help other refugees.
The boxes were taken to the Free Refugee Store on the school’s second floor when they were done.
The Bishop Maginn Free Store will be open starting later this week so the new refugees can come and pick out the blankets, clothes, household appliances, bedding, toiletries, and other things they might need. The store has been cleaned out at least four times but will keep going as long as it can.
At least five or six non-profit refugee support groups have rushed to help, and I believe the refugees will get more support than any refugee family has received over the past four or five years. This time, the government is on their side; that makes a huge difference.
It was a beautiful and uplifting day for me. I helped stuff the bags, took photos for Sue, helped flatten the boxes, and had a powerful interview with Caleb, a Bishop Maginn freshman who learned last summer that he has “Diabetes 1” (technically called “Type One Diabetes.”) We talked about how it had affected his life – he was out of school for months – and what he hopes to do in the future to help other kids with the disease.
I’ll write about that later in the week.
Thanks so much for your support for the baskets; the food just kept pouring in, as did the toys and the blankets and comforters. Of course, I’ll stay in touch with Sue Silverstein and keep in touch with the refugee coordinators I’ve been talking to. If there’s something further we can do to help, I’ll write about it, and we’ll see what we can do. I’m also excited about getting to know the Bishop Maginn students once again after a prolonged Covid interruption.