Donations needed for refugees in the Fox Valley

APPLETON – The former North Shore Bank building in Appleton now belongs to Lawrence University.

The university bought the building last December and hasn’t decided what to do with it.

So for now, the school has agreed to let the city use it as a donation collection site.

“We really think that this is an important cause and it is important for the university to work with partners in the community to support their missions,” said Jake Woodford, assistant to Lawrence University president.

Seventy-five refugees from Myanmar, Iraq, and Congo will be placed in Appleton this year.

World Relief Fox Valley is coordinating the refugees’ status.

“We have to have apartments set up prior to them arriving so we do collect donations, furniture and gently used items that they can use as soon as they arrive,” said Myriam Mwizerwa, World Relief Fox Valley director.

Some people have taken to social media to criticize the relief effort questioning why local groups aren’t being helped out instead of refugees.

The World Relief Fox Valley director has a simple answer for that.

“Our mission is specifically to work with refugees and immigrants. I mean, there are many other organizations and non-profits that focus on different things so our focus is on refugees,” Mwizerwa said.

Jean Long Manteufel is a member of the Fox Cities Kiwanis and she’s in charge of the donation and collection process.

“Our community is a welcoming caring community and they take care of each other and so that’s why it means so much to me. It’s not that we’re having a collection, our community is coming together to bring items to welcome the new refugees,” said Long Manteufel.

Ten years ago Fox Valley volunteers also came together and collected household items for an estimated 250 Hmong refugees.

“Through the collecting and through the whole community we were able to supply them with all the things they needed to set up an apartment.”

The drive will kick off February 22.

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