Holiday Joy Store Provides Gifts for Refugee Children

“Don’t Tell Me This Town Ain’t Got No Heart!”

People forced to leave their home country because of persecution, violence, and war are refugees. More specifically, refugees have well-founded fears of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group.

Refugees at Azalea Festival Wilmington, North Carolina
Above: Community of local refugees participating in the Azalea Festival a few years ago.

Wilmington, North Carolina has been a new home for refugees resettling from all over the world since 2010. Yet when Hurricane Florence made landfall this year, many refugee families were forcefully displaced from their homes for a second time in their life—except this time in a foreign country. 

Global Connections’ Holiday Giving Tree at Tidal Creek Coop

Despite countless hardships, these individuals and families resettling in Wilmington as refugees show great resiliency and success overcoming obstacles.

To help brighten the holidays for these children—many of whom had to move and enroll into a new school after the hurricane—Tidal Creek Co-Op and Pomegranate Books—hosted Global Connections’ holiday giving trees. Patrons of these local businesses donated more than 60 thoughtful & generous gifts for children starting new lives in the USA. 

With deep gratitude, we thank all the community members who supported our holiday giving tree with a gift for a refugee child. Their parents work endlessly to save money to build a new life for their families, and I know the children and parents greatly appreciated receiving new toys, books, clothes, and gifts for Christmas. 

In addition to distributing brand new gifts through an event we call a Holiday Joy Store, Global Connections also hosted our first biannual clothing and donation drive. Over Winter break we filled a gym with winter coats, children’s’ hats gloves and scarves, shoes, books, dvds, games, blankets, towels, dishes and other home goods for refugees to come get anything they needed. 

When the Federal government dropped the refugee ceiling limit for United States Resettlement in 2016, Wilmington’s local resettlement agency halted refugee resettlement and lost its local office. Many of the local refugees were unaware the office moved and thought there was no more settlement support in town. This holiday Joy Store helped connect many refugees with the resettlement agency again, so they can have extra assistance with resettlement. 

In the words of Booker T. Washington, “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to success.” It truly takes a village, and with the support of our caring community we’ve been able to uplift many refugees not just this holiday season, but all year-round.