Youth for Refugees partners with Della Lamb for House to Home project

The club is accepting house items donations to furnish the house of a KC refugee family

Gabby Delpleash and Maddie Welch

Since Jan. 23, Youth for Refugees has been collaborating with local refugee reassignment organization Della Lamb to collect donations for the House to Home project. House to Home, a national nonprofit organization, aims to furnish the homes of formerly homeless families by repurposing gently used furniture and household items. 

For YFR, the club plans to collect all necessary items via donation from the school and surrounding community to furnish a house for a refugee family coming to Kansas City in late March. 

The club is still in need of big ticket furniture such as dressers, food storage sets, mattresses and bed frames. YFR plans to end their donation drive “when all necessary items have been collected” with a goal of gathering all necessary donation items by the end of March. Should there still be items that have yet to be donated, YFR will extend the house drive for as long as needed, going until the end of the school year if needed.

What started in October as a tour of Della Lamb’s Kansas City facility to ask about potential service projects developed into a partnership with the refugee organization to undertake their largest service project offered. 

I want [this family] to know that we support them and that Kansas City is welcoming and that we support them through and through.

— junior Gwen Heideman

According to YFR volunteer coordinator junior Gwen Heideman, House to Home’s hands-on service work piqued the curiosity of the club’s officers upon its initial introduction.

“The House To Home project was one of the things that really caught our attention,” Heideman said. “It was something that we could directly contribute to rather than just donating money and, as Youth for Refugees’ officers, we really wanted to do something that would make an impact. We used [Della Lamb] as a catalyst to get started with our [project]. They would fit our needs and we just wanted to help them.”

Since starting their donation drive through SignUpGenius, YFR has received a copious amount of support from the school and surrounding community in receiving a little over half of the items requested within the drive’s first month. 

Project donors like junior Sarah Reynolds, who donated a side table, said that she already wanted to give the item away. Finding a good cause for the table made it all the more special. 

“I looked at the sort of items they needed and noticed they needed a bedside table, and I had just moved mine out of my room because I didn’t have space for it anymore,” Reynolds said. “It was already cleaned out and everything, so I signed up to give it to someone who could use it more than I was.”

Della Lamb engagement director Cori Wallace made it possible for YFR to use the organization as their project “catalyst.” Wallace, who first met with the club’s officers over a Zoom call in September, says YFR is the youngest group of students to tackle the House to Home project from beginning to end; a project that takes adult-run organizations an average of six months to complete, YFR plans to have accomplished in four months. 

“I have all the confidence in the world that Generation Z really understands the nature of displaced people and have a real sense of empathy and curiosity,” Wallace said. “When I have a curious group of young, Generation Z women leading this charge, I want to strike when the iron is hot because I knew they would be motivated and capable and I found that to be true.”

Junior Grace Cormany, who is in charge of media marketing for YFR’s involvement with House to Home, says the club’s officers took great pride in methodically outlining the process of partnering with Della Lamb to launch the project.

“Lots of planning went into the House to Home project. At the beginning of the year, we knew we wanted to get more involved, so we initially started looking at volunteer opportunities. It was then that we came across House to Home,” Cormany said. “After reading about their mission, we knew we wanted to work with them, so we reached out and got set up. We had to find a storage unit for all of the items, figure out transportation for larger items, and brainstorm how to get the word out. We’re so happy that everything is up and moving now.”

Though the donation drive has already experienced success thus far, Cormany believes the upcoming spring cleaning season will help boost their donations even more to help YFR eventually reach their end goal.

“The project is going so well. We get closer to reaching our goal every day, but we still have some items that need to be signed up for,” Cormany said. “With spring cleaning coming up, take a look at our Signup Genius to see if any of your extra items can be donated to help a family in need.”

Pioneering a new degree of refugee advocation within the school, Heideman hopes to extend the support raised through House to Home to all refugees in Kansas City and beyond.

“I want [this family] to know that we support them and that Kansas City is welcoming and that we support them through and through,” Heideman said. “I hope that they’re able to take this act of kindness and push forward and do something great with themselves and be able to become financially independent and be able to support themselves. I know it’s got to be hard coming to a new place. Just giving them the little boost they need can really help.”

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