OLLU assists refugee families

By Celeste Delagarza

Recognized student organizations (RSOs) at OLLU rallied together to host a non-perishable drive for refugee families being released from the Dilley family detention center. From September 28th through October 16th, students and faculty helped to donate toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrushes, backpacks and many other items for the many women and children who are detained.

The Dilley family detention center is considered a “home” to hundreds of women and children who attempted to cross to the United States illegally. While the process to release these women and children continues, the most important question is not “When will they be released?” but “What will they have when they are released?” Most of the women and children come with simply the clothes on their back or what they can carry in their hands. Once they are released from the facility, some head to nearby bus stations in hopes for a brighter future while others search for a place to stay at surrounding group homes.

With OLLU’s support, the women and children will be able to start their new journey with a few essential items. Backpacks stuffed with deodorant, baby wipes, socks, clothes, and other items are put together to help start their new journey outside of the detention center after being there for a few months.

In hopes to get more information on the donations collected, I reached out to Brother Josh Warshack, OST. Warshack is a Catholic religious brother belonging to The Order of the Most Holy Trinity and Captives. He is also a current student at the Oblate School of Theology working on a Masters of Divinity and an MA in Theology.

Warshack explained he visits the detention center about three times a month and provides the Liturgy of the Word as well as a communion service for the residents in the facility. He explained how backpacks stuffed with essentials are put together to help meet the needs each family has upon leaving the facility.

When asked about how he felt regarding the facility itself, Warshack said his “ability to provide the Eucharist is important” and helps to strengthen the Catholic presence amongst the families. When also asked if he felt the collecting of items as well as his presence has made an impact on the families, Warshack said “I definitely do.”

When a collection was started in the beginning of September, Warshack mentioned, “Within a week we took two carloads.” Warshack’s personal experience at the facility has been a positive one. With the Catholic presence amongst the families, he also explained how the women ask for rosaries and prayer cards.

“They’ve responded very generously,” he said.

While the number of women and children at the facilities is anticipated to drop in the coming weeks, the center will continue to stay open for processing new immigrants who have crossed into the United States.

The collection of donated items will continue to help benefit the women and children. For more information, please contact cwcs@ollusa.edu or socialjustice@ollusa.edu.

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