Inside Sources: Help refugee students in Utah get back to school

Aug 5, 2020, 2:12 PM | Updated: Aug 11, 2020, 10:19 am
Doctors have mixed feelings about kids going back to school because of spiking COVID-19 cases refug...
(PHOTO: Getty Images)
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — COVID-19 has made going back to school this fall much more difficult for students, parents and teachers, but it may be even more of a challenge for the 65,000 refugee students who call Utah home. 

Refugee students in Utah may need traditional supplies like backpacks and pencils and pens, but also face masks and hand sanitizer, to return to the classroom.

Executive Director Amy Dott Harmer of the Utah Refugee Connection joined Boyd Matheson on Inside Sources to talk about the many ways listeners can help refugees in our community get back safely to learning.

Every year, Harmer said, the Utah Refugee Connection holds an event along with Granite School District to allow any refugee anywhere in the state to learn about the resources that are available for going back to school, such as immunizations and eyeglasses. Every refugee student is given a backpack at the carnival event.

This year, because of the coronavirus, the event has been canceled. But kids still need backpacks for school, said Harmer.

Donate to help refugee students in Utah

Harmer encourages listeners to donate to Utah Refugee Connection to help with the purchase of comfortable masks, hand sanitizer and Google Chromebook laptops.

“It’s really cool to see these vulnerable kids come, and they’re so nervous,” Harmer said. “They’re struggling to learn the language and get access to the things that they need. And then all of a sudden see them become who were meant to be once their basic needs are met. And see them contributing, giving back to the community, on their way to self-sufficiency and going to college is really rewarding.

“I’m not saying the backpack makes the difference, but it helps them be excited and ready for school” she said. “Nothing is more terrifying than the first day of school and not knowing if you have what you need.”

Harmer added that the parents will be more engaged in their students’ educational needs if the kids have what they need for returning to school.

“Be part of this,” Boyd advised his listeners. “This is treating these extraordinary refugees, not as liabilities to be managed, but as people, as human beings, with infinite potential.”

More information about how to help is below. 

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 11:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

Back to School Backpack Kit Drive:

July 1-Aug. 12. They need 500 more kits!

  • Backpacks ( new packs only. No drawstring backpacks. Neutral colors appreciated.)
  • Spiral notebook
  • Washable face mask (You can add a child and an adult mask, if you have both.)
  • 1 or 1 1/2 inch binder
  • Packaged lined paper
  • 4 mechanical pencils
  • 3 pens
  • 1 glue stick
  • 12 count colored pencil
  • 24 count crayons

If you have 20+ backpacks, please drop them at The Serve Refugees Sharehouse on the Lincoln Elementary Campus, North Parking lot, 450 East and 3700 South in South Salt Lake.

Open Mondays by appointment (text Kim 385-202-3683) and Wednesdays 11-2 for drop-offs. They ARE NOT IN THE SCHOOL. They are in a portable classroom in the parking lot of the school on the far north side. Look for the “Serve Refugees” sign on the railing.

There are over 20 contactless locations to drop off your donations:

They will have a sign on their porch and a box for your donations. Please do not knock or bother the homeowners.

The Other Side Academy is also willing to take backpacks at their thrift stores. (Hours are ‪10 am to 6 pm : Monday‬ – Saturday)

Drop-off locations (BACKPACKS ONLY):

  • Salem:  675 S 70 W, Salem UT 84653
  • Provo: Utah Valley Refugees (nonprofit) 125 E 300 S suite 211 Provo, Utah 84606
  • Orem: 1489 East 1060 North, Orem, Utah
  • Lindon: 77 W 225 N Lindon
  • American Fork: 926 West 980 North American Fork
  • Alpine: 705 East 200 North, Alpine, Utah
  • Highland: 10239 Riverside Lane, Highland, Utah 84003
  • Suncrest: 15211 S Lone Oak Ct, Draper UT 84020
  • South Jordan/Riverton/West Sandy: 11606 S Douglas Vista Drive, Draper, Utah.
  • Bluffdale: 15269 S Drumbeat Lane Bluffdale, UT 84065
  • Daybreak: 4612 W Serendipity Way, South Jordan, UT 84009
  • Eagle Mountain/Saratoga Springs: 2521 N Apricot Place. Saratoga Springs UT.
  • Draper: 13271 Laurel Park Lane, Draper, UT 84020
  • Sandy: 2352 East Hillsboroughheights Road, Sandy, Utah
  • Cottonwood Heights: 8030 Hunters Meadow Circle Ctwd Hts 84093
  • Holladay: 5680 South Nations Way, Holladay, Utah
  • Holladay: 4449 Wander Lane, Holladay, Utah
  • Salt Lake: 1751 East Browning Ave., Salt Lake City, Utah 84108
  • Bountiful: 2119 South Davis Boulevard, Bountiful UT 84010
  • Layton/Syracuse: 3066 S 1000 W, Syracuse, UT 84075
  • Farmington: 1329 Willow Brook Lane (west Kaysville)
  • Fruit Heights: 1243 E. Goldspur Lane Fruit Heights 84037
  • Eagle Mountain/Saratoga Springs: 2521 N Apricot Place. Saratoga Springs UT.
  • Other Side Academy Thrift Store: 4290 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84107
  • Other Side Academy Thrift Store: 3230 South 1300 East, Millcreek, Utah

Mission Statement

Create meaningful connections between refugees, the community, and public and private organizations which support refugees in developing self-sufficient and fulfilling lives.

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Inside Sources: Help refugee students in Utah get back to school