Minnesota Refugee Agencies Inundated With Donations And Offers to Help

Minnesota Refugee Agencies Inundated With Donations And Offers to Help

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Syrian Refugee Children CC DFID - UK Department for International Development

Minnesota has an unusual refugee problem — too many people volunteering to help.

“We have four to five times the number of volunteer inquiries and interest,” the Minnesota Council of Churches told the Star Tribune. “It’s a wonderful problem to have.”

The sudden surge has happened in just the last couple of weeks, as 31 governors around the U.S. demanded that no Syrian refugees be allowed in their states.

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But in Minnesota, citizens are offering to house refugees in spare bedrooms and teach English classes. They’re also flooding relief agencies with donations of coats, diapers, cash, and other items.

Even though no Syrians have reached the state yet, their plight is raising awareness that has inspired people to help.

According to the Star Tribune, five nonprofit agencies resettle about 2,000 refugees in Minnesota every year. Three of those groups report a sudden groundswell of support in the past two weeks.

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Donations to the International Institute of Minnesota have come from around the state and from 24 other states — many with governors rejecting refugees. The Institute, which resettled 465 mostly African and Asian immigrants last year, has received 500 phone calls from people asking to volunteer in the last two weeks.

Catholic Charities report an upsurge of volunteers and the Council of Churches has had to put people wanting to help on a waiting list.

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