Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington is in need of food, school supplies and hygiene items for families who have taken in refugee children from Guatemala and other Latin American countries.
Richelle Vible, Catholic Charities’ executive director, said that Charities “delivered a whole truckload” Sept. 4 of food, clothing and beds to its Georgetown office for families who have given shelter to the children in Sussex County.
“It’s been a difficult situation,” Vible said, noting most of the children, an estimated 140 or more, are from Guatemala and have been placed with Guatemalan relatives who have been living in Sussex County.
Catholic Charities has been reaching out to children and families on a one-to-one basis to find out exactly what they need, Vible said.
“Our staff is used to working with people in need, but when they first met some of these children and families, they were touched and upset by the depths of the needs,” Vible said.
“These children had nothing. They needed shoes, clothing and groceries. They cried, they were so grateful.”
Catholic Charities is also assisting the children with immigration paperwork through its Immigration and Refugees Service department, Vible said, Charities is also “trying to establish a network of attorneys who would be willing to provide pro bono or heavily discounted legal assistance,” she added.
Shavonne Brathwaite, who runs the Basic Needs/Crisis Assistance office of Catholic Charities, helped deliver the first truckload of items to the host families.
“It was heartbreaking,” she said.
Families need beds because the refugees are sleeping on the floor and “they don’t have enough to eat. We’re giving those items to those families as fast as possible.”
Catholic Charities distributed bags of food and children’s outfits to “help get the kids started for the school year,” she added.
“I had a translator with me and told them, ‘you’re not going to leave here today without food.’ They were so thankful.”
Brathwaite, who works in Catholic Charities’ Wilmington office, said that helping the refugees and their families reminded her that what Charities “does every day is important. Being able to share a gift with someone, something that you take for granted every day is an amazing experience.”
She noted that the families hosting the newly arrived children “were already struggling to take care of their own family, and they were still willing to give the little they had to someone in need.”
Brathwaite said Charities will continue to serve “as many as we have the means to serve.”
How to help
Donations of nonperishable food itmes, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and shampoo, as well as school supplies, grocery store gift cards and cash donations are welcome and can be delivered to any Catholic Charities location in the diocese.
Cash donations can be made online at www.cdow.org/ccdonation.html. Choose food donation as the ministry of choice.
Catholic Charities locations are:
• Main office, 2601 W. 4th Street, Wilmington, 19805. Phone 302-655-9624.
• Bayard House, 300 Bayard Avenue, Wilmington, 19805. Phone 302-654-1184.
• Thrift Center, 1320 E. 23rd Street, Wilmington, 19802. Phone 302-764-2717.
• Kent office, 2099 S. DuPont Highway, Dover, 19901. Phone 302-674-1600.
• Sussex office, 406 S. Bedford Street, Ste. 9, Georgetown, 19947. Phone 302-856-9578.
• Casa San Francisco, 127 Broad Street, PO Box 38, Milton. Phone 302-684-8694.
• Eastern Shore office, 30632 Hampden Avenue, PO Box 301, Princess Anne, Md. Phone 410-651-9608.