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Donation closet aimed at assisting new immigrant arrivals

Sarah Brown
The donation drive is seeking good quality clothing, hangers and clothes racks.

This story was produced through a collaboration between WFAE and La Noticia. You can read it in Spanish at La Noticia. Puedes leer la nota en español en La Noticia.

Immigrants who have recently arrived in Charlotte have a new resource to find free clothing and essential household items now that a group of Latin American organizations have partnered with a local church to set up a donation closet.

The donation closet initiative was started in response to what the groups' say is a growing need in immigrant communities.

At Hickory Grove United Methodist Church in east Charlotte, located at 6401 Hickory Grove Drive, there’s donated clothing. The items are currently available every Saturday to anyone in the community who's in need.

Pastor Candido Albino now hopes to expand the donation service to address an influx of requests from recently arrived immigrants.

“There have especially been a lot of Venezuelans who have arrived with great needs and we want to be a blessing to them and help,” Albino said. “They aren’t arriving alone but as families, so that compels us even more to open our doors and help because there are young people and children. It’s distressing.”

The church is partnering with several local organizations, including the Latin American Coalition, the Venezuelan Alliance and Las Maris, to assist immigrants who arrive in Charlotte with little money and few possessions.

Magbis Nuñez with the Venezuelan Alliance described serious needs — not only from Venezuelan arrivals but from Nicaraguans, Cubans and Colombians — who, she says, are arriving in greater numbers. In recent weeks, she’s received an increase in calls from organizations seeking emergency assistance.

“I had never had in one week, in a period of four days, that three different organizations called me,” Nuñez said. “These people are arriving here with a need and it's our job, our mission to support them and to give them the help we received ourselves.”

One recent call that drove Nuñez to action involved a family with children who had been sleeping in a Charlotte bus station.

“As a mother, that really broke me, especially when I saw that they didn’t have a suitcase, they didn’t have clothes. They didn’t have anything. So I told them that as an organization, I think we can get you some clothing,” Nuñez said.

While the father of that family has now found work, Nuñez said, she fears for other immigrant families who are struggling with the cost of living and the lack of affordable housing.

She hopes the donation facility at the Hickory Grove United Methodist Church will become a point of relief, where individuals can find good quality clothing, toiletries and other essential items.

To make a contribution, Nuñez can be contacted directly at 704--533-2682.

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Kayla Young is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race, equity, and immigration for WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.