Every summer our Orlando community partner, Pauline Jackson, organizes her mammoth “Back to School Jamboree”… a giveaway event where she hands out backpacks, school supplies and uniforms to as many as 500 low income children whose families visit her food pantry. Through individual donations, Family-to-Family raises the funds for those items, which we purchase and have sent to Pauline in time for her giveaway. This year we provided 500 backpacks filled with supplies, 250 additional packets of paper, and $3,000 for school uniforms. Read more here.
When 66 asylum seekers landed in mid-June in Ardsley, New York, a town located a stone’s throw from our offices, Family-to-Family joined up with several other local nonprofits to help provide for their immediate needs. To date, thanks to our donor’s generosity, we’ve been able to give each adult $100 in Visa gift cards, supplied each person with a backpack full of personal care products, with a duffle bag so they can carry their things, and distributed new strollers, kids’ clothing and shoes. These families have travelled a long way — they started in Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Russia, Congo, Guinea and Senegal, and all crossed into the U.S. at the southern Texas border. From there they were sent to New York. Our goal is to make them feel welcome in their new community! Other organizations are stepping in with food and adult clothing, and a local summer camp is providing free camp for the children. We hope to continue to provide Visa gift cards until everyone finds a job! You can join our effort here.
We’re thrilled that our first ever Passover Dinner Drive resulted in extra Seder foods for all 200 Holocaust survivors in our program! We provided each struggling survivor with an extra $50 grocery gift card at the end of March so they could choose and purchase Passover holiday foods. The idea for the drive came from one of our donors, who suggested we do something similar to our Thanksgiving Turkey drive, with Passover foods in mind. One of our liaisons with a community of survivors in Los Angeles wrote, “This is particularly helpful because many of the grocery assistance programs which started during Covid have ended, and it’s a difficult adjustment.”
When our partner at Human Rights First told us about Malya V., she was about to be reunited with her three children after ten long years apart, and the family was in need of EVERYTHING. Malya, a refugee from Haiti, had been a rape victim there, and her husband had been beaten to death trying to stop the rape. Her experience drove her to become an activist for women’s rights and the prevention of domestic violence, but that activism led to threats against her life and the lives of her children. In 2012 she sent her kids to the Dominican Republic for (relative) safety while she was on a trip to the U.S., but was unable to return and the family became permanently separated. Malya applied for asylum here, but there was no program that allowed her children to join her. Then, in the fall of 2022, an existing immigration program was expanded to include Haitians, and in mid-March her kids flew into Philadelphia International Airport to join her. An overjoyed Malya was not only reunited with her two sons and daughter, but met her five-year-old granddaughter, Lheina, for the very first time. Since Malya, who works at a food packaging company, had no resources to purchase bedding and other items for the family, we stepped in and set up an Amazon wish list with all the items they needed. There was an outpouring of support from our donors, and the family quickly received the beds, bedding, towels, clothing, phones, shoes and other basic items they needed as they started their new lives here in the U.S.
While Family-to-Family hosts a kids pajama drive every year, this winter we added a second drive for orphaned and displaced children still living in Ukraine. Working with two other nonprofits, ForWellBeing.org and The Ukrainian Refugee Resettlement Project, we distributed a pajama wish list to our donors that resulted in over 1,000 pairs of cozy, warm pajamas as well as 150 blankets! The items were packed up in Florida, shipped to Ukraine, and then distributed to orphanages, hospitals, and boarding schools by a volunteer group of doctors. The goal was to provide warmth and a bit of cheer to children in areas of Ukraine relying only on generators after Russian missile attacks on the energy infrastructure cut off electricity (and heat).
When an non-food emergency need arises for one of the families we sponsor, we do our best to jump in and solve the problem. So when we heard that a disabled grandfather and his grandson in Pembroke, Illinois were sleeping in a run down house that had no beds, or even mattresses, no working refrigerator, and a badly leaking roof, we reached out to our donors for help. We happily have been able to provide new beds, mattresses, blankets, sheets, towels, and a refrigerator. And we’re working on getting the roof, windows, and rotted deck replaced.
Another Pembroke family we sponsor with monthly groceries had the pipe that carried propane (which they use for heating and cooking) from an outdoor tank into their home dug up and stolen! The family, a mom with three children, suddenly had no heat to stay warm or fuel to cook with. We purchased and had a new pipe installed, and also bought the family a badly needed new front door, and a fan for an asthmatic daughter.
When Covid first hit, many of the already struggling moms and dads in our sponsored communities found themselves suddenly out of work, and desperate for help. We responded by doubling up sponsors for most families in our program who received grocery gift cards, so each family received double the funds on their gift card every month. A $35 gift card became a $70 gift card, and for local Rivertowns (NY) families, one donor per family turned into three or four. Now, with inflation causing food costs to increase, it makes sense to us to continue that protocol indefinitely, even as many of our recipeint families have returned to work.
In addition to Hastings on Hudson and Dobbs Ferry, NY (our local community), the places “doubled up” are:
- Boston, MA
- Braddock, PA
- Brookside, AL
- Burton, MI
- Flint, MI
- Jenkins, KY
- Kermit, W.VA
- Lake Providence, LA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Mamaroneck, NY
- Ossining, NY
- Pembroke, IL
- San Elizario, TX
- Staten Island, NY
- Waco, TX
- Whitney, NV
- Worcester, MA
- Yonkers, NY
We continue to hear from our on the ground community partners about families that don’t have a computer at home… causing their kids to fall behind as they struggle to complete school assignments. To help solve that problem, we’re working with The Loyalty Foundation, a not-for-profit that donates refurbished Chromebook computers to impoverished students, with the goal of providing them with more equal access to education. So far this fall 95 low income students in three of the communities we serve (NYC, Waco, Texas, and San Elizario, Texas) have received a computer. That’s on top of the 112 students who received one last year (in Flint, Michigan… Jenkins, Kentucky… Yonkers, New York and NYC).
Three years after launching our Refugee Family and Holocaust Survivor sponsorship programs in the New York area, Family-to-Family has expanded both programs to California. Working with Seniors At Home (part of Jewish Family and Children’s Services) in San Francisco, and Human Rights First in Los Angeles, we’ve begun providing monthly grocery gift cards to impoverished refugees and Holocaust survivors in both cities. We’re in the initial stage of expanding our Sponsor A Family program to L.A. as well.
44,000 and counting…
Thanks to donations from Eileen Fisher Renew, to date we’ve found homes for more than 44,000 gently used Renew women’s clothing items (by designer Eileen Fisher) – passing them along to low income women struggling to rebuild their lives. The clothing, which includes both casual and professional items perfect for job interviews, has gone to women in need at 20 poverty outreach organizations, including Westhab, Inc. in Yonkers, N.Y., The Henry Street Settlement House in New York, N.Y., The Bronx VA Women Veterans Clinic in New York, N.Y., Vet2Vet in Buffalo, N.Y., Family Justice Center in New York, N.Y., People to People in Nanuet, N.Y. and Integrity House in Newark, N.J.