Donate to Refugees: Give Your Household Goods a New Purpose


April 2015


Kotb visits refugee apartments

For many people, an old bicycle often sits forgotten in their garage. For a refugee family, however, a bicycle is their main way of getting to and from work. Opening Doors works with two other refugee resettlement agencies to distribute used goods like bicycles, furniture, and appliances to refugees.


The donations program has served over 50 refugee households since its revival by Amira Kotb, Refugee Resettlement Case Coordinator, in August of 2014. For Kotb, the program offered a logical solution to a question of efficiency. “While working as a case manager furnishing apartments, I felt like a donations program could save a lot of money,” she said.


While Opening Doors partners with Big Al’s Furniture to provide refugees with affordable furniture, every expense cuts into limited client budgets already strained by rent payments, utility bills, and other necessities. “One of our goals is to be good stewards of our client’s money,” David Dauer, Refugee Resettlement Program Manager, said. “Everything we get donated saves equivalent value for our clients and puts more money in their pockets.”


In particular, donations benefit single, unmarried, and childless refugees, who have the most limited budgets. Kotb describes one case where the donations program allowed Opening Doors to affordably furnish a client’s whole apartment. “For me to give [the client] the rest of his money after two months and see that there was a good amount left felt good,” she said.


Faisal with carts of household goods for refugees

In addition to saving clients’ money, the donations program connects refugees with a warm and caring community. “Many people in Sacramento hear about what’s happening in the Middle East – the wars, the explosions – but they may not be aware of how they can alleviate some of the suffering,” Kotb said. “Resuming this program gave the opportunity for the wider community to help.”


Many donations fall outside the scope of basic furniture provided by Opening Doors, including important items such as bicycles, sewing machines, and vacuum cleaners. Community members who donate these items help transform refugee apartments into spaces they can truly call home.


The program’s success in forging connections stems from its origins as a collaborative project between Sacramento’s three refugee resettlement agencies. Fueled by Kotb’s vision, the efforts of Dauer at Opening Doors, Lisa Welze of International Rescue Committee, and Kirt Lewis of World Relief Sacramento, the program evolved into a streamlined system that allows the agencies to share storage units and distribute donations based on demand.


According to Dauer, cooperating to tackle similar challenges makes the program unlike any other in the refugee resettlement world. “Just being in closer touch and working together is meaningful beyond the program itself, because it generates a richer pool of thoughts and ideas,” he said.


If you have items to donate, submit a pickup request online and schedule a time for drop-off or pick-up. Gently used furniture, dining sets, household appliances, entertainment sets, bicycles, and other accessories are welcome. Sofas, dining sets, kitchen items, dressers, and lamps are especially appreciated, as they are in constant demand. Your donations to Opening Doors are invaluable gestures of care that make lasting impression.


moving boxes
Refugee resettlement agencies from across the nation set up donation programs. Our cooperation makes ours unique.



Read other articles from April 2015:

Big Day of Giving: Round 2

“I Can.” Affirmations of Confidence and Potential from a Survivor and Volunteer