Scholastic Kids Press Corps
The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.
kid reporter mari chiles with nuha hammoody Kid Reporter Mari Chiles and Nuha Hammoody, a refugee from Iraq who now works for the Refugee Resettlement Immigration Services in Atlanta, at the Paideia School in Atlanta, Georgia, where students collect coats for refugees. (Photo courtesy Mari Chiles)

Refugees Need Your Help

Atlanta students collect coats to prepare refugees for winter

By Mari Chiles | null null , null

You know that awesome feeling that springs up on the inside whenever you do something nice for someone? A class of 5th and 6th graders at the Paideia School in Atlanta, Georgia, recently experienced that when they made a difference for refugees in their community.
The project began after the class heard an inspiring presentation from Lisa Fierman, Paideia's Director of Service Learning. She told them about underprivileged people in other countries. The class decided to do something to help.

They learned about an organization called Refugee Resettlement Immigration Services In Atlanta (RRISA). It helps people who are coming to Georgia as refugees. A refugee is a person who comes from another country because of government oppression, war, or extreme poverty.

The students decided to start a coat drive to help refugees unprepared for harsh Georgia winters. Many of these refugees are from much warmer climates. They don't have coats, hats, scarves, or gloves.

Leanne Rubenstein, Director of Development at Refugee Resettlement Immigration Services in Atlanta
Leanne Rubenstein, Director of Development at Refugee Resettlement Immigration Services in Atlanta at the coat collection center at Paideia school in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo courtesy Mari Chiles)

Students were assigned jobs like spreading the word to other classes and making posters to hang around the building. For two weeks, students went to each class every day, checking to see if their classmates brought in more coats. The class collected a total of 84 coats!

"Because of RRISA, people at Paideia have become more aware of the presence of refugees in Atlanta," Fierman said. "In addition to our kids helping them, they come and educate us."

Through RRISA, the Paideia school community discovered there are about 50,000 refugees in Atlanta.

"We started volunteering with them, and it has been fantastic ever since," Fierman told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

RRISA was founded in 2002 because of an increase in the number of refugees coming to America. At the time, the main source of aid for refugees was from churches, synagogues, and mosques.

Besides Paideia, many schools in Atlanta and around the U.S. donate to RRISA on a regular basis. One nine-year-old boy in Connecticut even asked for money instead of birthday gifts at his party so that he could donate it all to RRISA. He sent a check for $225.

"The kind of work we do is about giving back to the community," said Leanne Rubenstein, Director of Development at RRISA. She helps raise money to support the programs that they offer.

Nuha Hammoody is a refugee from Iraq. She now works for RRISA, doing case management.

"You can imagine what it was like [in Iraq]," she said. "War, violence, radicalism, oppression, depression, poverty, all of this craziness."

She now helps refugees become successful in the U.S.

When asked what she got from RRISA after her arrival in the U.S., Hammoody said, "A new life."


Scholastic's newest team of Kid Reporters take a look at what young people around the country are doing to help out the less fortunate this holiday season in the Kids Make a Difference Special Report.


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