Chicago volunteers assemble kits for migrants as suburb begins vaccination clinics

As asylum seekers work to adjust to life in the United States, housing and healthcare are top-of-mind. Meanwhile, volunteers – from the city to the suburbs – are working to make them feel at home.

On Thursday evening, more than 50 volunteers assembled roughly 500 personal care kits. They’ll be distributed to migrants living at police stations, where there are still more than 3,000 new arrivals awaiting shelter placement.

"We wanted to give people a sense of being at home, and feeling, you know, ‘I can make this my home,’" said Major K. Kendall Matthews, associate Chicago area commander with The Salvation Army.

The effort took place at City Church Chicago in West Town, in partnership with the Salvation Army and Jewel-Osco.

"Help people feel at home away from home, considering they are coming from such distances," said Matthews. "When you think about people persevering, I think that all things are possible when it looks impossible."

Along with toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, body wash and more, migrants will find an added surprise in each kit – a handwritten note offering support.

"I think it’s super humbling to be a part of something that’s so much bigger than yourself," said Madeline Austin, volunteer.

The personal hygiene kits will be distributed to migrants at several police stations this Sunday, Oct. 29.

To assist the Salvation Army in its effort to provide migrant families with essentials and other support, call 773-725-1100.

Meanwhile, the Village of Oak Park, on Thursday, held a vaccination clinic geared toward migrant families. It was the first in a series of pop-up clinics being made available to ensure that school-aged asylum seekers have the required vaccinations to attend class.

"It’s mandatory for the children in order to stay in school and we know that one thing that’s really important as children are coming here from a different country, is to help them get acclimated and in school," said Dr. Theresa Chapple, public health director, Village of Oak Park.

Held at the Cheney Mansion, interpreters were on-site to help with the process and make the experience a more comfortable one for new arrivals.

More than 20 children rolled up their sleeves Thursday to get caught up on the medical care they weren't able to receive in their home countries.

"I think this is just really the first huge step that we can do to help in this transition process," said Chapple.

The Village of Oak Park plans to host similar vaccination clinics through December. Details will be posted to their website.

This comes in addition to $150,000 the village was awarded earlier this month to support asylum seekers.