Pitch in together locally and sustainably – now!
It is a shocking certainty: Europe is not simply facing but standing in the middle of its biggest challenge since the Second World War. Every day in the media we follow the disturbing scenes taking place at the border, on the train platforms and at the reception centers. The suffering has found its way to our doorsteps; into our cities and communities – and into our daily lives.
We at Pack & Smooch founded ourselves with the aim of operating locally, sustainably and fairly – out of social responsibility. Keeping this responsibility in mind, we are challenging ourselves more than ever to look beyond our daily business. We realize, especially in such disturbing times as these, how much those of you who value our work – our quality, our design, our philosophy – are not just our customers, but representatives of the same values. We are sharing needs as well as responsibility. Let’s set a good example and lend a hand together. Now!
Communication is the most sustainable way
We have put together some possibilities for offering real help. The most important thing we can do: inform one another, exchange with friends, family and colleagues, talking with them about the refugee situation. Sensitizing our fellow man to this subject is the simplest and most sustainable way. Talk with those who are helping or those who need help. Go where the asylum seekers are staying in your neighborhood, in your district, in your community, in your village. Ask around about neighborhood initiatives, refugee organizations or local meeting points near you. Google the area where you live in combination with keywords such as ‘refugees’ and ‘help’. Try the same when searching for corresponding groups on Facebook as well. You can also find information about local initiatives and projects from your state’s refugee council.
Donate clothing and help in sorting
The cold season is approaching and the need for warm clothing is increasing. Find out from the local collection points what kind of clothing is needed. Bear in mind: many clothing storage facilities are hopelessly full and the volunteers are barely managing to sort them. You can even sign up to help with this. In many places other practical household donations are needed such as toiletries, blankets, toys for outdoors (bicycles, scooters, etc.), umbrellas, strollers and baby products (bottle warmers, etc.), and stationery. Be sure to ask the local outfit first what is actually needed most before bringing something in! Most important is that the well-preserved and clean articles are sorted beforehand and packed in boxes which are easy to handle and well-labeled. For example: ‘winter clothes, size 152’, or ‘disinfected baby products’.
Mentor program for translation and daily assistance
In many German states there are so called mentor programs. Germans and newly arrived refugees are brought together to help with translating or to assist in the daily life, be it cultural events, dealings with government agencies, or taking walks through the city. You will find an overview of the local mentor programs on the website for the state refugee councils as well.
So far, taking in a refugee – let alone an entire family – into one’s own apartment or house is not so easy, as the regulations vary for each country and community. Should you want to provide housing to a refugee, you will need the official permission to accommodate them in your home. A detailed source of information has been compiled by the organization Pro Asyl: Infopapier-Fluechtlinge
Want to donate money? Do it securely!
As a rule, you can be sure when you donate to well-known, reputable organizations that the money and items will reach where they are needed. Those who remain skeptical should look out for donation seals. Since 1992 the German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI) has given its seal of approval to those organizations which voluntarily choose to subject themselves to the strict assessment of economic, legal and ethical criteria. If a charity appeal carries this DZI seal you can be sure that the organization objectively campaigns, economically operates and verifiably discloses what the donated funds are being used for. On the website of the UN Refugee Aid Organization UNO- Flüchtlingshilfe you will find information about how to initiate one’s own donation campaign and thereby collect more donations.
Do you also have tips on how one can help? Any further links you can share? Please feel free to post them below as comments.
Your Pack & Smooch Team