First generation student holds clothing drive for refugees

By Alyson Jurgovan
Staff Reporter

Roosevelt University has partnered with Chicago-based refugee advocacy RefugeeOne for a winter clothing drive.

Senior Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) student, Ermina Veljacic, knows firsthand the difficulties refugees face upon arrival to their new homes. Veljacic is a Bosnian immigrant who moved to America at a young age.

Veljacic said that it was by no means an easy journey for her and her family, however she spoke to the aid of refugee organizations and how they made her family’s journey an easier one.

“I came here not knowing the language. I didn’t have any family here, just my immediate family. We came here with literally nothing but the clothes on our back. I just remembered that we worked with several organizations that helped us. They would donate clothes and cooking utensils and helped us out so much,” Veljacic said.

With the recent crisis in Syria, there has been an influx of refugees seeking safety all over the world. With winter fast approaching, Veljacic took it upon herself to create a resource for refugees coming to Chicago that would be in need of winter clothing. Veljacic contacted local refugee resource, RefugeeOne, and initiated the partnership.

First Generation Student Support Services advisor Pamela Thompson-Hill approved the partnership that Veljacic requested.

“Ermina’s personal story about her own family experiences as a Bosnian immigrant, I think, is the real motivation in her desire to help others. We have done similar drives in the past collecting warm gloves, scarves and socks for the homeless, so her idea of a winter clothing drive was the perfect collaboration and opportunity for us to do our part to help those in need as well,” Thompson-Hill said.

Winters in Chicago have proven difficult for residents, even equipped with the appropriate attire. Veljacic urges students to consider the difficult journey these refugees have gone through and try to put ourselves in their position.

“Why not try to help someone who is coming here, not because they want to, but because they are forced to so they can survive. Why not try to give them a little glimpse of hope? Why not show them what they teach us here at Roosevelt; about social justice and how it’s important to stand up for the little guy?” Veljacic said.  

The drop off box for donations is in the First Generation Student Support Services office ( AUD 104) for anyone who is interested in donating new and gently used hats, gloves, scarves, coats and boots, now until Nov. 30.

Veljacic collects donated items weekly to bring to RefugeeOne.

Categories: Feature

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