Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Students in the course IS:3012 (Community Engaged Learning with Refugees and Immigrants in Iowa), taught by Dr. Peter Gerlach, Adjunct Assistant Professor in International Studies, hosted a donation drive on May 11th, 2022, in the parking lot at the Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC).

Students collaborated with The Catherine McAuley Center, serving migrants, refugees, and women in Cedar Rapids; Open Heartland, serving Latino immigrant families of Johnson County; and Iowa City Compassion, which serves the Iowa City community. Items accepted at the drive included furniture, hygiene supplies, small appliances, kitchenware, clothing and other products in new or working condition.

The goal of the project was to call upon community members to donate items that are commonly needed by refugees and immigrants resettling in Iowa City.

Many people pitched in to make the drive a success, according to University of Iowa sophomore Rami Kazazic, one of the students helping to coordinate the efforts. “We made four trips with the U-Haul and five with the minivan. Dozens of people donated and about a dozen volunteered,” Rami reported. “We’re super happy and proud.”

Katie Splean, Volunteer and Outreach Manager at The Catherine McAuley Center, thanked students for “helping promote a welcoming community by diverting household items towards organizations helping people meet basic needs and work towards stability!”

Dr. Gerlach congratulated the class on their accomplishment. It is his wish that this project will inspire continued efforts to aid refugees and immigrants beyond the IS:3012 course. “This was truly a successful community engaged project—and one I am very hopeful the student organization our class is planning will replicate in the coming months and years.”