The plight of the unaccompanied children arriving on the Texas border and that of other states has dominated news reports recently. Bishop Rayford B. High, Jr., has issued a statement about the crisis, and many Episcopalians have asked how they can help.
Catholic Charities Fort Worth is the main local agency helping with the influx of unaccompanied minors. They take in 32 children aged 3 to 16 at a time with each child spending up to 30 days in the facility.
On Friday, July 3, Diocesan Ministry Developer and Stewardship Officer Demi Prentiss attended a meeting at Catholic Charities, as did Margaret Mieuli and Brenda Seaver of St. Christopher Episcopal Church, Fort Worth. They were there, along with more than a hundred other people, to find out how best to help that agency as it provides shelter for some of the unaccompanied children arriving on the border.
Mieuli reported that the Catholic Charities staff is well-organized amid the crisis, even as they are being inundated with offers of help. They need people to answer the phone to free up social workers to work with the children. They anticipate this process of children moving through their facility will continue for several months.
They need people to assemble Welcome Boxes (See below) or Activities Boxes that will contain toys or games for up to eight children to enjoy. Nearly all of these children speak only Spanish. Instead of donating money, they are requesting people donate $25 gift cards from Target, Wal Mart, and McDonalds. This allows volunteers to shop for specific needs of specific children as well as an occasional treat from McDonalds. The children arrive with nothing, and all need at a minimum new socks and new underwear.
If you are not able to assemble a Welcome Box, drop off the contents for one at the Creating Hope Donation Center at 249 Thornhill Drive, Fort Worth, TX, 76115, Monday through Thursday, 8 am-1 pm. They also need volunteers to assemble the Welcome Boxes from these donations.
- 1 Plastic shoebox sized container
- 1 Shampoo
- 1 Conditioner
- 1 Body Wash/Bar Soap
- 1 Toothpaste
- 1 Toothbrush
- 1 Brush/Comb
- 1 Pack of Hair Ties
- 1 Deodorant
- 1 Small Toy
People interested in fostering an unaccompanied child are invited to an informational session at Catholic Charities to learn more about the unaccompanied children and how to get involved with the International Foster Care program. Sessions are July 7th from 1 to 2 pm and July 10th from 6 to 7 pm. at Catholic Charities Fort Worth, 249 Thornhill Drive, Fort Worth, TX, 76115. Requirements to be a foster parent can be seen here at the bottom of the page.
People are invited to commit to “a minimum of one year as a weekly mentor for one of our youth or help with the planning or funding of a special event” which can include life skills camps, holiday events, and foster family retreats.
- Picture dictionaries or translation dictionaries (Burmese, Swahili, and Arabic)
- School supplies including backpacks
- Soccer balls
- iPods, MP3 Players, or portable CD players
- Tickets to sporting events, cultural events or museums
- Donation of turkeys and/or smoking/carving turkeys for annual Thanksgiving Celebration
Additional ways to volunteer
- Provide tutoring
- Offer to help foster parents with household chores – like mowing the grass or going grocery shopping
- Become a babysitter or respite provider
- Recruit foster parents
- Assist in the Catholic Charities office
Download a PDF poster about volunteer opportunities at Catholic Charities here.
For more information on volunteering, fostering, or mentoring, contact Ruth Brasier, Foster Family Recruiter, 817-289-0461, or email@example.com
Prentiss also has been contacting other agencies and offices dealing with the unaccompanied children arriving at the border to find other ways to help.
Anna Rodrigues, a caseworker with Catholic Charities in South Texas, said donations can be sent to the Food Bank of Rio Grande Valley, 724 N. Cage, Pharr, TX, 78577. The phone number is 956-682-8101. People can check for specific items need by going online to check specific items needed. .
Monetary donations are a good alternative to packing and shipping actual food items. They should be sent to Catholic Charities, PO Box 1306, San Juan, TX, 78589.
There also are two United Way chapters in the Valley which are coordinating responses and receiving monetary donations:
United Way of Southern Cameron County
634 E Levee St, Brownsville, TX, 78520
United Way of South Texas
200 S 10th St # 101, McAllen, TX 78501
On Tuesday, July 8, Prentiss will be on a conference call with Episcopal Migration Ministries and Episcopal Relief and Development to learn ways to assist those agencies in their work with this crisis. Updates will be posted as that information develops.