New American Pathways’ Resource Coordinator, Jayme Hogan-Yarbro, coordinated her second holiday drive for the refugee youth we serve – and it resulted in the most successful drive ever!
Having conducted last year’s holiday drive, I knew to expect an outpouring of support and participation from friends of New American Pathways when we kicked off the 2016-17 drive. What I didn’t expect was to have enough to give each child the organization serves (around 450 youth) at least one holiday gift. Not only did the children served by our Bright Futures afterschool programs in four schools receive gifts, but the kids served by our Resettlement and Family Engagement departments did as well!
With over $7,700 worth of donated items, even more faith-based organizations, community groups, friend circles and individuals contributed to our holiday and winter item donation drives than last year—a feat I never imagined!
As always, our good friends at Oak Grove UMC (with their representatives Hank Woolard and Phil Perry) donated upwards of 200 gifts to our holiday drive. (Pictured below from left to right are Phil, his daughter, Hank and me).
Also our supporters at The Packaged Good donated over 150 gift bags for refugee youth.
Even our good friend Brad Myers and his team from the Centers for Disease Control donated over 40 dozen cookies to New American Pathways to help cater the afterschool holiday parties.
What really made this year’s holiday drive so successful was the popularity of our Amazon wish list and Facebook presence. I focused on reaching out to the community on social media – and the response was enormously positive. People from all over the country worked together to make the holidays bright for our refugee youth and their families, purchasing over 590 items from our Amazon Wish List. Almost all of the donated items came with notes of encouragement, appreciation for the work we do, and a clear message of welcoming our new American friends to Atlanta. I found these notes to be particularly meaningful during the holidays this year.
But children’s gifts weren’t the only items donated to New American Pathways this winter. Throughout the season, we collected coats and winter items to keep our clients warm. Thanks to the wonderful people at Finders Keepers Consignment and Engel & Volkers, we were able to collect and distribute over 350 winter items to our new American families – including coats, gloves and hats.
Not a day went by this past December that I wasn’t receiving a donation or tearing open at least one Amazon package for our families. Because of this, I earned the title “Santa Jayme” and it is one I proudly (and jollily) wear. Creating a sense of warmth and welcome for the refugee youth we serve is very important to us at New American Pathways and I’m so appreciative to have been part of the process for two holiday seasons.