It’s been 10 days since I put out a call to action– to support the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition by purchasing items on their Amazon Wish List that will help them assist refugees at the Texas border after they are released from federal custody.
It’s felt like a whirlwind. A lot has transpired over the last 10 days and it feels like it’s only been 10 hours. I want to tell you about some of the magic you’ve made happen and some other things you can do.
As I promised LuLu, we came through BIG TIME. That wish list was fulfilled so fast that they were up until midnight adding more to it the first day. A couple days later, the packages began to arrive, HUNDREDS at a time. I got a text on Sunday that their delivery just for that day was 427 packages. The texts I get from their volunteers are a treasure!
They got snacks and shoes and soccer balls. They got tricycles. The trikes, I’m told, are very, very popular with the kids and they are delighted to have more than one, now. When they posted this to their VVBHC FB page, I cried the happiest tears.
Are you following them on FB? Will you, please? Shon Young- the pastor who founded the VVBHC- told me this week that it’s his goal to have at least one FB like for every person they’ve served. They are up to over 5,000 refugees who have walked through their doors since they opened a few months ago. Right now, they have 1900ish page likes. Let’s get them to 5,000! It’s so easy to share their page with your friends and costs you nothing! Not to mention, it’s so wonderful when they share all the good work they are doing.
They are still updating the Amazon Wish List daily, and every single thing is so very needed. They asked for 20 strollers last week, and after posting to my IG stories (I’m @JillKraus.e there) we had all 20 purchased in 20 minutes! Now, the VVBHC gets to gift these to parents who have been carrying their babies for miles and miles. Can you imagine the relief?
I created a short link for their wishlist- JillKrause.com/HelpRefugees – this will send you directly to it. I don’t make any kind of affiliate sales from this link. I simply used my link shortener to make it easier to send people to their list.
They can not get too much! I know there is some confusion about if they are accepting donations. They are a volunteer run center- a non-governmental organization or NGO. They absolutely want and will accept everything on this list.
According to Stacy Flores, a member of Congressman Henry Cuellar’s team, Border Patrol can and does work with NGO’s like VVBHC to get items they need for people in custody. Here’s a screenshot of his email telling me as much:
So please keep sending them stuff on that list because not only is it helping the people coming through their doors, some of it may be making it’s way into the federal facilities, and some of it is definitely making it’s way up and down the border to other NGOs, from Eagle Pass up to El Paso. VVBHC is working with other similar orgs to disperse and share what they get.
On Monday last week, I joined my friend Laura Mayes (of Mom2.0) at the refugee center in San Antonio, where everyone from Del Rio (along with many other places) heads before they take off toward their sponsor city. The needs there are IMMENSE and we have a plan and some big asks coming soon. I hope to write more at a later date about that visit. Truthfully, I don’t have time to do it justice right now. There are some big feelings I’m still processing.
For now, I would LOVE for you to join me in focusing on and amplifying…
NEXT STEPS FOR SUPPORTING THE REFUGEES AT THE TEXAS BORDER
- Keep checking and buying off the VVBHC Amazon Wish List. If it’s within your means, consider doing this monthly. Everyone we talked to said they expect this influx of refugees to keep overwhelming the border for the next 18 months. We can’t stop buying stuff next month. This is an ongoing need.
- Like VVBHC on Facebook, and stay tuned for their IG account! We are working to help them get that up and going so they can keep sharing their story with you and you can keep in touch with them there.
- If your church can arrange to send volunteers/a mission trip, or if you are part of any other group who would like to volunteer in San Antonio, please reach out to me and I will happily put you in touch with the San Antonio location. They are in GREAT NEED of volunteers. Please note that this is not recommended for kids younger than 15.
- If you are in the San Antonio area, the San Antonio Food Bank is feeding and providing clothing for the people in the San Antonio location. Please reach out to them, support them, DONATE TO THEM, and volunteer for them.
- The Interfaith Welcome Coalition in San Antonio is also doing great work for people, including refugees. Click here to learn more about how you can support them.
- My friend Ashley Crane is hosting an Usborne Books fundraiser through today, Sunday the 7th. There’s still time to donate to it or buy books through it. The goal is to get some Spanish kids books to the VVBHC!
- STAY TUNED. As I said, we have a lot of big asks to come, and I know this community is eager to keep helping. We (myself, my friend Laura Mayes- one of the founders of the Mom 2.0 community, and Meredith Walker of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls) are heading to Del Rio this Wednesday to get a better idea of what we can do to help this effort. We will report back very soon!
- Finally, but definitely not the least important, CALL YOUR REPS. Hold them accountable for the conditions within these centers.
Sidenote: If you send something off the wish list, consider adding an encouraging note to the volunteers. They read every single one! Watch this!