On January 18, more than 200 volunteers from the Atlanta area gathered in the recreation hall of Rock of Ages Lutheran Church in Stone Mountain to pack more than 4,000 pounds of rice for refugees recently resettled by LSG. As they mingled and waited for the rice packing to begin, many volunteers made signs, sharing their reasons for supporting refugees in Georgia and explaining why they choose to spend their day off from work or school as a day of service.
In a little over an hour, the hard-working volunteers – who ranged from groups of middle schoolers to individuals and families to groups of adults from local congregations - re-packaged the 25 and 50 pound bags of rice into smaller family-sized bags to be distributed to refugee families.
So, Why Rice?
A bag of rice may seem like a strange welcome gift, but to those entering a brand new country with few resources and no immediate means to secure their family’s next meal, rice can be more than just food. Rice, often a central part of the diets of many refugees, can bring a feeling of comfort and security in a tumultuous period of their life. When refugees step off a plane at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to begin their new life in the United States, they’re often exhausted and overwhelmed from their journey and the long waiting period spent in a refugee camp. They are unsure of what the next hours and days will bring. Lutheran Services of Georgia provides them with food, shelter, clothing, cultural information, and other support in the first weeks in America, setting them up for to be self-sufficient and contributing members of their communities.
How We Help.
Lutheran Services of Georgia currently resettles over 600 refugee clients each year in the Atlanta and Savannah areas. In 2015, LSG resettled refugees from 14 countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, Central African Republic, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Burundi, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Sudan, Indonesia, Iran, and the Ukraine.
LSG is there to secure housing for refugees, help refugees find their first job, and assist refugees in getting acclimated to life in Georgia. LSG supports refugees as they apply for important documents, including social security and Georgia ID cards, enrolls refugee children in school, and helps refugees select a primary care physician. LSG provides cultural orientation covering essential aspects of U.S. culture, including U.S. law, medical and educational systems, transportation, banking, and more. With help from organizations like LSG, more than 80 percent of newly arrived refugees in Georgia became completely self-sufficient within 180 days (source: CRSA).
In addition, LSG’s Savannah office provides additional support for refugee children through the Refugee School Impact Program, launched in spring of 2015. This program aims to improve the academic performance and social adjustment of refugee children. LSG’s School Liaison and a team of volunteers support families through tutoring, individualized case management, regular assessments, and meetings with parents, teachers, and school administration.
We need your help.
LSG relies on volunteers and donors to help the many families in need in Georgia.
Pastor Stephen Friedrich of Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Marietta, Ga. shared his reason for volunteering:
"Participating in the MLK Day of Service with LSG was a tangible way for me to put my Christian faith into action. We believe that God's kingdom is a place where all are fed and welcomed. Yesterday I was part of a group working with God for his kingdom right in our midst. For me, there is no greater joy!"
Refugee resettlement is only a portion of what we do and who we serve.We help find homes for children through Foster Care and Adoption. We keep families together who at risk of separation through our Family Intervention Services. LSG provides disaster relief when needed. If you are interested in volunteering with Lutheran Service of Georgia, please contact us at 404-875-0201 or click here to get involved.