By Jennifer Steiner
MCC Great Lakes
On Oct. 2, area congregations gathered at Orrville Mennonite Church to learn about the current situation for border detainees and to work together on a tangible response. In a little over an hour, volunteers had packed 175 immigration detainee care kits to provide much-needed supplies for those being released from border detention.
Volunteers assembled the kits at Orrville Mennonite with supplies that were all donated or purchased with money raised by local congregations through Open Arms Hispanic Ministries. The items, ranging from socks and sweatpants to towels and shampoo to notebooks and shoelaces, were all sorted and packed into backpacks.
When people who have been placed in immigration detention centers are released, they often have nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Kits containing clothing and hygiene products can help to rebuild their dignity as they transition into life outside the detention center.
The kits are being collected for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), who is partnering with the South Texas Response Team, a group of local pastors working with various local partners to distribute kits to people as they leave detention and are taken to bus stations or airports to reconnect with their families.
Volunteers ranged in age from young children through retirees and included several area junior and senior high youth groups. Once the kits were all assembled and loaded into the box truck, the volunteers surrounded the truck and lifted a prayer of blessing for the kits and those who will receive them.
Jennifer Shue brought her three young daughters, Harper (age 13), Sommer (age 11) and Veena (age 9), to volunteer with the kit packing event. “I want my girls to have a bigger world view beyond Wayne County and know that we all can help no matter how great or small,” said Shue. “Physically putting all the items in the backpack and then putting the backpacks on and walking them through the church and out to the truck was very moving for me to see and be a part of.”
For nearly 100 years, MCC has been walking alongside and offering relief to those who are hungry, without clothing or water. Today MCC is actively working to support people who are seeking a safer, better life for themselves and their families by migrating to the U.S.
For more information about the immigration detainee care kits, visit mcc.org/immigrationkit. The MCC Material Resources Center at MCC Connections in Kidron is serving as a drop-off point for completed kits.
A list of kit contents can be found here: mcc.org/media/resources/8815.
MCC also urges people to take action by advocating to your members of Congress to welcome those seeking asylum in the U.S. and to focus any federal spending related to asylum seekers on meeting humanitarian needs and addressing the root causes of migration rather than on detention, deterrence and enforcement. More information is available at mcc.org/immigration.