Refugee bedding drive a success
The Penn Yan Action Coalition (PYAC) conducted bedding drive from Dec. 6 to 15 to benefit Afghan refugees settling in the greater Rochester area.
Members of the Yates County community generously answered PYAC’s call for donations, inundating drop-off locations at Penn Yan Public Library and Keuka College with many hundreds of dollars’ worth of sheets, blankets, pillows, and more. Items were then transported by volunteers to a central site for sorting, and then delivered in two batches to Saint’s Place in Pittsford for distribution with the support of the Catholic Family Center. Saint’s Place has been supporting refugees in the Rochester area for over 20 years.
On the first trip, several volunteers’ cars were packed to the brim with the many donations. On the second, a 20-foot trailer was used to deliver the remaining goods. All told, the Yates County community contributed 51 blankets, 52 full and 49 twin sheet sets, 67 pillows, 74 comforters, and over 100 assorted sets of pajamas, along with several mattress covers and other goods. In addition, donors raised $365 in cash and gift cards.
PYAC organizers would like to extend their deepest gratitude for the generosity of the many people who contributed to the collection in the midst of the busy holiday season, extending hope and comfort to those who have come to this country fleeing the terrible conditions in their own land.
Special thanks are also due to Amber Benjamin of the Sigma Lambda Sigma service organization, who coordinated the Keuka College collections; the staff at the local U-Haul office, Johnny V’s Auto Sales, Fox Run winery, and Jim Long from Longs' Cards & Books, who assisted with transportation and packaging logistics; and the spouses, family members, friends, and neighbors too numerous to name, who pitched in on publicity, transport, sorting, funding, and other crucial tasks. Dave Soule and Bob Guthrie also deserve recognition for their help in sorting and transporting the supplies.
Members of PYAC involved in planning the bedding drive include Scarlett Emerson, Cindy Gorham-Crevelling, Claudia Guthrie, Deborah Koop, Anne Meyer-Wilber, Nancy Richardson, Ed and Mickey Schultz, Peggy Soule, and Alex Andrasik.
“The gifts of the community were obviously given graciously. Many brand-new items were donated, well beyond my expectations,” Mickey Schultz said. “Many others were very gently used, but all brought to us cleaned and folded. There were also several handmade afghans, and one whole box of new quilts of sizes that would be a comfort to a small child who had been uprooted from the only home they knew. The Penn Yan community is always generous, but continues to surprise with the depth of that generosity.”
While celebrating this hopeful accomplishment, it is important to center on the people who this effort sought to serve. “A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence," according to Saint’s Place. "A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. … Refugees are real people, just like you and me. They have hopes and dreams. No one chooses to be a refugee. Each refugee has a unique story, yet all refugees experience years of hardship, deprivation and fear. Their stories are filled with bravery, determination and human strength” (www.saintsplace.org). To provide aid to a refugee family is to meet the basic commitment we owe to one another as human beings.
“These children and their parents are heroes,” said Gorham-Crevelling. “After a good night's sleep in comfy pajamas and warm bedding, the day will be brighter for them.”