Parishes urged to hold
drives to aid refugees

St. Albert the Great Church plans to have a moving truck on its campus later this month and it’s encouraging other parishes to do the same.

The parish isn’t going anywhere; parishioners are encouraged to fill the truck with donations for refugees arriving in Louisville with the help of Catholic Charities.

“We’ve done it every year in the fall for I don’t know how long. Whatever they need; it’s mostly for immigrants. We’re basically furnishing their apartments,” said Denis Roux, a member of St. Albert’s social concerns committee. “They give us the list. And every year we get a truck that comes out and our parishioners come and fill it up.”

Catholic Charities is currently resettling refugees from Cuba and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The agency expects to receive evacuees from Afghanistan as early as this month, though uncertainties in the process could delay their arrival, said Alison Voit, assistant director of the agency’s migration and refugee services.

U.S. Military Police walk past Afghan refugees at the Village at Fort McCoy U.S. Army base, in Wisconsin, Sept. 30, 2021. (CNS photo/Barbara Davidson, Reuters pool)

New arrivals generally come with little or nothing, so Catholic Charities stocks a clothes closet and stores new or gently used household items donated by the public to furnish their homes.

Right now, the clothing room is fully stocked, said Voit.

St. Albert is collecting a wide range of items — from dressers and kitchen tables to kitchen and cleaning essentials.

Parishes may also focus on one type of item, said Voit.

“Items most needed are items that can’t be reused — light bulbs, trash cans, shower curtain liners, cleaning supplies. So a parish drive to collect those items would be helpful,” she said.

“We really encourage people to have a drive because you can really have an impact if you work together,” Voit noted. “Your parish may already have a drive and you might not know. So, call your pastor or contact your social concerns committee.”

If nothing’s planned?

“Take the lead and organize it,” said Voit.

Denis Roux of St. Albert encourages parishes to give it a try.

“There’s definitely an enrichment that happens in the people who help and donate,” he said, noting he’s not sure how long his parish has held the drive, but it has seen several pastors. “People bring things and they want to know who they’re donating to. They feel like the people they’re donating to are something really special.”

The keys to success, he said, are communication and persistence.

“Get it in the bulletin and see if you can get the word out,” said Roux. “And get as many volunteers as you can. The first year might not be a vibrant year — that’s how our first year began. But it grew every year. We’re at the point now where everyone expects a drive now.”

If a parish or group would like to hold a collection for Catholic Charities, Voit urges them to connect with Catholic Charities’ Mary Wurtz first. Wurtz, whose job includes engaging parishes and schools in the agency’s work, will ensure “everyone doesn’t start collecting light bulbs” at once, Voit said.

For more information about planning a drive, contact Wurtz at 637-9786 or mwurtz@archlou.org.

Voit noted that individuals may donate directly to the agency, as well. To make individual in-kind donations, contact Lauren Goldener at lgoldener@archlou.org to make an appointment to drop off items.

The agency can also pick up large items by appointment at locations within 20 minutes of its Market Street location. Pick-ups are scheduled several weeks out because the agency has just one truck and limited staff. To schedule an appointment, reach out to Goldener at 636-9263.

A list of needed items and more information is available at cclou.org/donate-stuff/.

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