Refugees & Stock the Shelves Program

First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette is Committed
fpcw remains committed to caring for each other during this difficult time and we remain committed to caring for our community, particularly the most vulnerable.

Below are four ways you can help. If you have questions, please email or call Pator Erin at revraska@fpcw.org or 847-858-0925.

Stock the Shelves will continue to supply refugee families with essential items. Here are two ways you can help:

  1.  Donate ONLY bar soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper, toothpaste and cleaner.  Drop-off items in designated bins at the parking lot door of fpcw, or have items shipped to fpcw.
  2.  Volunteer to deliver bags of items to refugee’s homes. Pick-up bags at fpcw, bags will be labeled with an address, volunteers will drop-off at refugees’ door. Email Tiffany flannagan  to sign-up.

Connections for the Homeless
Is serving the homeless and vulnerable in Evanston and surrounding communities. fpcw signed up to provide 40 sack lunches on April 14. Volunteer to make 5-10 (or more!) sack lunches including a sandwich, drink, snack and dessert. All lunches will be dropped off at fpcw at a designated time on April 14 and one volunteer will deliver the lunches to Connections at their Dewey location. Email Pastor Erin Raska to sign-up and for more details.

C24/7
Is providing groceries and household items, as well as rent and bill assistance, to those in the North of Howard neighborhood who have lost jobs and income. Click here to make a financial contribution.

The Village of Wilmette Covid-19 Response Efforts
In response to COVID-19, the Village of Wilmette is looking to coordinate with other local organizations within the Village to provide caretaker services to help support the Village’s elderly and disabled population. Please click here to learn more about the support the Village of Wilmette is making available to our at-risk population.

Stock the Shelves
Stock the Shelves provides what food stamps won’t and stretched income can’t cover by giving Chicago area refugees and their families the household and hygiene supplies they need to lead thriving lives. Despite their best efforts, many refugees strain each month to stretch their earnings to purchase the indispensable household and hygiene supplies food stamps don’t cover. Striving to close that gap, every fourth Wednesday of the month, Stock the Shelves drives a truck filled with the 15 items refugees need (and the only items we accept!) to the Indo-American Center in Rogers Park, where volunteers set up a mini-store stocked with new, unopened items. Refugees arrive early, check-in, then shop the tables, choosing the items they need for the month. We do our best to supply them with as much as we can. The more donations and dollars we have for purchasing, the better able we are to meet their needs.

It’s that simple and vitally important in closing the gap between what their incomes and food stamps won’t cover. Please click here to access the Stock the Shelves website.

Stock the Shelves is an interfaith collaboration between fpcw, First Congregational Church of Wilmette, Sukkat Shalom, Congregation Hakafa and Temple Beth El.

How Can You Help?

  • Donate Items From Our List: Drop off a single item OR collect hundreds of items by hosting a drive with your classmates, teammates, co-workers or friends! For drive support materials and boxes email Rev. Erin Raska, revraska@fpcw.org.
  • Purchase items on the Stock the Shelves Registry at Target: tgt.gifts/stocktheshelves.
  • Donate Money: Each month the cost is approximately $3,000 to serve the 125 families, but every dollar makes a difference! Please make checks payable to FPCW with Stock the Shelves in the memo line and mail to FPCW, 600 9th St, Wilmette, IL 60091, or hold a fundraiser at your school, office or club. All gifts are tax-deductible.
  • Volunteer: Join us to sort items, load the truck and help distribute to the families. To volunteer please click here to access the SignUpGenius link.

Items Needed to Stock the Shelves:
Toilet paper, feminine pads (No tampons), diapers size 1-5, laundry detergent, basic cleaner (e.g. 409), body soap, hand soap, dish soap, deodorant, shampoo, body/hand lotion, Toothpaste and toothbrushes, razors and shaving cream. Please click this link STS Brochure to access the Stock the Shelves brochure.

In addition to donations, we need volunteers to help sort the donations and help load the truck and be a host on distribution days, at the Indo-American Center. Please consider helping with this important mission. Check out the Stock the Shelves website for ways to donate and volunteer.

Shop on Amazon, Support fpcw
fpcw is now a registered charity through the Amazon Smile program! So, next time you’re shopping on Amazon, select “First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette” as your charity of choice and we will receive 0.5% of the total order as a gift. Here’s how it works. Visit our unique link and it will automatically select our church (https://smile.amazon.com/ch/36-2284275), or visit smile.amazon.com and search for fpcw. Either way, thank you for your support of the life and mission of our church. We are grateful.

Refugee Families

The church supports and encourages 2 families who entered the US as refugees in 2016.  We are so thrilled with how far they have come. Updated details will be here soon!

Immigrant and Refugee Crisis at the U.S. Border – You Can Help
Whatever our political persuasions, our Christian faith calls us to love our neighbors, to care for the needy and to welcome the stranger. We know your hearts have been heavy with the ongoing crisis at the southern border of the U.S., where families have been separated, children have been detained in squalid conditions and despair seems ubiquitous. According to Google Maps, it’s over 1,500 miles from Wilmette to El Paso, Texas. But these are children of God, our sisters, and brothers in need of our action and engagement and prayer. We remember what the late Elie Wiesel used to say to audiences around the world when he spoke about surviving the Holocaust, “The eleventh commandment is ‘Thou shall not stand idly by.’”

A few of us have been brainstorming and organizing and praying about how we can best respond at fpcw. We want to give you some ways you can personally and immediately respond, and then some ways we’d like to respond as a community.

Give – We recommend three organizations. First, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is already working with organizations to help families at the border. They provide shelter when families at the border are released, help with transportation, items for the bus, medical attention. You can give here. Second, many of the children, some of them still unaccompanied, end up in Chicago. There is an organization supported by our friends in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America called AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation, and Opportunities.)  This organization provides a one-on-one response to the children. You can give here. Finally, Immigrant Families Together is a movement that started in June 2018 to support families at the border. They pay bonds for parents in detention and work to reunite them with their children. Additionally, they support over 100 reunited families as they recover from their detention trauma and adjust to life in the U.S. while their asylum cases are adjudicated. You can give here.

Learn – the roots of the crisis at our border are complicated and go back decades, not just a few news cycles. There are many resources out there, but one we encourage you to watch is the film, “Genesis of the Exodus,” that was produced by our denomination, the PC(U.S.A.), a couple of years ago and that traces the root causes of the massive exodus from the three countries that make up the Central American Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador).

Advocate – As with many other issues that arise, we encourage you to contact the office of your Representative or Senators to express your opinion on this issue. Organizations that monitor current legislation will be able to keep you abreast of any bills moving through Congress. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard number (202)224-3121, ask for the individual’s office you’d like to speak with and here is a potential script to use.

“Hi my name is ____. I live in _____, IL zip code _____. [I’m _(a parent/grandparent, etc.)_, so the treatment of all children and their families, no matter their nationality, is a priority for me like it is with my own _(children/grandchildren)_, and our country needs to do better.]  I’m calling to urge Rep X/Senator X to end family separations at the border and to ensure that the US Customs and Border Protection and the Office of Refugee Resettlement adhere to humane standards of protection for kids, like time limits for detention and basic hygiene, like making sure kids have toothbrushes, soap, showers, and mattresses. These child protections, as well as alternatives to detention like foster care and placement with family members should be written into law. 

Can I count on Rep X/Senator X to put pressure on CBP and ORR to ensure protection for kids, that families be kept together, and to work for long-term solutions by writing child protections into law?” [The bracketed piece is actually really important–telling them why you care personally is just as important as telling them what you want them to do.]

Pray – our first and last job as followers of Jesus is to pray. There is power in prayer, in listening to God, in interceding for those who are suffering. And yet we must remember “thoughts and prayers” are not something we just blithely tweet after a crisis. Authentic prayer always changes us and impels us to action. As 1 John says, we are called to love not just “in word or speech, but in truth and action.” We encourage you to pray for the migrant families, for the political leaders and government agents on both sides of the border, for non-profit and religious leaders. We invite you to find ways to talk to your children about this crisis and include their voices in your prayers.

Join Our Task Force – Finally, Pastor Erin and Mission Committee co-chair Mary Watt would like to form a fpcw task force to look into ways in which we as a congregation (and perhaps as part of a coalition of Wilmette congregations) might get more directly involved in this crisis as it is playing out in Chicagoland. This approach was how we began our involvement with the refugee crisis in 2015. Please reach out to Erin (revraska@fpcw.org) or Mary (mhw1117@gmail.com) if you are interested in learning more.