A group in Houston, TX, who came together for World Refugee Day, is changing the world for refugee children in their community. Led by Hannah Roberts, the group organized an event to make blankets and bears for refugee children. This group is proving that even though the enormity of the refugee crisis seems overwhelming, we can all do something. At Carry the Future, we believe that one person can make a difference, and when we are empowered together, we can change the world.
When Hannah Roberts first began volunteering for Carry the Future, she held a fundraiser for Bundles of Joy. After her first event, Hannah became committed to making blankets year round: “After my first fundraiser I was hooked. I hosted a series of small gatherings at my home and was delighted to get twenty blankets.” Hannah continues to host events, but now she has a larger goal in mind: 100 blankets.
Through all of the events Hannah has hosted, she’s found that people want to help but feel overwhelmed. If you’re wanting to help, Hannah has some tips for hosting a successful event.
1. Have a plan.
For Hannah, having a plan made organizing the shower more manageable: “People want to help, but the lack of a plan leaves them feeling paralyzed. If there’s someone with energy and direction, there will be crowds of people ready to join the action.”
2. Ask for help.
Many people are unsure how to ask others to give of their time, talents, or money. Hannah began by asking people she knew as well as organizations in her community: “I began sending letters to all of the Girls Scout troops in the area, reaching out to fellow teachers, contacting local churches, and posting on my facebook wall. A good friend of mine teamed up with me to work through her social network and found us a gathering spot at her church!” Hannah was pleasantly surprised at how willing everyone was to do something for the event.
3. Make connections.
Hannah created an event page on Facebook event, but knew that she would have to use other methods of communication if she wanted to reach people’s hearts. “Creating a Facebook event is easy enough but you need to be persistent and creative in making connections with people. Having a quick short pitch for Carry the Future allows others to take their interest into involvement. Sharing photos of blankets in progress and updating our blanket count as each donation came was a great way to build momentum and community support.”
4. Prepare for the event.
While Hannah had a location for the event, she still needed the supplies. This took a little more work, but with some help from others, she got what was needed: “I requested funds from people around the country and scoured Joann’s for coupons for their fleece fabric.” Hannah also worked to make the event accessible for everyone: “The day of the event we showed up with yards and yards of fabric and an organizational plan!” No matter the level of expertise, anyone who wanted to could pitch in: “The easiest way to do an event like this is in stations. We laid out examples of in-progress and finished blankets and bears to create a guideline for new crafters. More experienced crafters we sent to the embroidery and bears rotation! Having different levels of crafts allowed for everyone to feel successful and excited.”
5. Get empowered together.
Just as important as preparing for the event was maintaining the sense of community and excitement during the event. Hannah worked to make sure there was a sense of solidarity among those present. “One of my favorite parts of the event was seeing everyone gather together and chat over the tables. We shared stories, celebrated each completed blanket, and reinforced that we are all in this together.”
6. Remember why you’re there.
At the heart of it all are refugees who need our help. At the end of the event, that was the thought possessing Hannah’s mind. Empowered together, everyone who attended the event “filled the room with love and made it a success!” At the end of the day, all of their hard work paid off: “So many people turned their work into a concrete expression of love.”
Thank you, Hannah, for all you’ve done to help refugees! And thank you, for sharing your tips for hosting a successful event.
Want to get involved? Click here to see how you can do something to help refugees.