A donation of 8,000 books, toys and other items on Friday, May 7 brought the number of gifts received by the local tourist board to more than 28,000 for migrant children staying at the Long Beach Convention Center, more than half of them future. within 48 hours.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has three sites in the city, deposited this important donation at the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau on Friday afternoon. Local worshipers have asked for help at church headquarters in Salt Lake City, which sets aside funds specifically for humanitarian causes, and the religious organization has responded with help, said Nate Fernley, a member leader of churches in the Long Beach area. The thousands of donations included coloring books, crayons and activity books in Spanish, mostly for elementary school children. An Orange County nonprofit also donated more than 2,000 items on Friday.
“Humanitarian efforts are a priority for the church,” said Laura Doud, auditor from Long Beach City, a member of the church who helped organize the deposit. “It is a great effort and an opportunity to help these children who are in need at this time. “
The Convention Center opened as a temporary shelter for migrant children last month amid a wave of minors crossing the southern border to escape violence and poverty in Central America.
The shelter, managed by the US Department of Health and Human Services, can accommodate up to 1,000 children and is primarily used for girls aged 5 and over. But HHS officials said the agency would cap the number at 800 to monitor coronavirus cases.
As of Friday, there were 725 unaccompanied children at the Convention Center, which will remain a migrant refuge until August 2. More than 20 children have been reunited with families or sponsors, said Andreas Frank, special site assistant for HHS. an email.
Throughout the shelter’s first weeks of operation, federal and local authorities sought to ensure children had all the amenities needed to be comfortable, including toys and books.
And the community reacted. Samantha Mehlinger, spokesperson for the Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in a Friday afternoon email that donations would easily exceed 30,000 – and called that a conservative estimate.
“It comes from our church, but it’s really a community effort,” Fernley said of the Friday Major Donation. “We are so grateful to be part of a community that cares about those around them. “
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give what are called “fast offerings” once a month that are used for people around the world who need help immediately.
““The church has been a big supporter of so many events,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said Friday. “This is all going directly to the kids, so it’s wonderful that we’ve had such a strong response from our community. “
But the Long Beach congregation was not alone in making a large donation on Friday.
Mayor Irvine Farrah Khan, alongside Orange County nonprofit Team Kids, donated over 2,000 books, in English and Spanish.
“This is a regional issue that we can all bring to help,” Khan said.
“A few days ago we put out an appeal to see if we could collect donations,” added the mayor, “and Team Kids made a call on their side, and we were able to put that together for today. “
People can continue to drop off new toys and books at the Terrace Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Cash donations can be made through the Long Beach Community Foundation’s Migrant Children Support Fund at longbeachcf.org/donate/migrant-children-support-fund.
“I can tell you that the HHS is incredibly grateful for the support we have received from the Long Beach community,” Zhan Caplan, the spokesperson for the federal agency on site, said in an email. “On behalf of HHS, thank you Long Beach!”