Jeanette Tiwald was shopping at a thrift store earlier this month when she looked across O Street.
And the Catholic Social Services building refreshed his memory.
She still needed to find a family to sponsor for Christmas, a tradition she started over 35 years ago when her children were young.
“I just wanted to make sure my kids understood how important it was for them to give gracefully to someone. I would always say, ‘There is someone poorer than you who needs help.’ “
Year after year, her family organizes a Christmas dinner and buys toys for the children, toiletries for their mothers, blankets for the grandparents.
But until one day she crossed O Street and walked into Catholic Social Services, she had never had to rent a U-Haul before.
She asked them if they knew of a family she could sponsor. The agency had already made all of their vacation matches – matching families in need with those who can give – but they had a young couple from Afghanistan who needed help.
They had arrived on December 1, two of the 395 refugees who were expected to resettle in Lincoln after the US military withdrew from Afghanistan in late August.
They lived in a hotel, awaited accommodation and were eight months pregnant.
Could Tiwald find them a cradle?
She returned home and asked the question on the Nextdoor site.
“I must have received over 100 emails and texts saying, ‘I can help, I can help, I can help,’ she said.
And since then a constant parade of strangers – she estimated between 50 and 60 – have come to her east Lincoln home, donating car seats, strollers, safety gates, diapers. , high chairs, baby bedding and clothes, hundreds of items in it all. Others gave gift cards and cash.
“I have a bunch of them in my house,” she said. “I never, in my wildest dreams, believed that something like this would happen.”
She hired a U-Haul truck on Tuesday and handed over the donations to Catholic Social Services, who were grateful for the help, said Pim-Pimpicha Tubsuwan, her director of refugee resettlement.
Several times a week, her social workers and other staff go to the airport to look for a new family. By this weekend, they will have settled 90 refugees – or about 40 families – and they expect to settle 165 eventually. Lutheran Family Services is committed to reinstalling 230 of them.
And their needs are great. Housing and household items, clothing, medical care and other services.
It’s like putting a puzzle together, Tubsuwan said. Everyone has an important contribution to make: their staff, volunteers, county and state agencies – and donors like Tiwald.
“To relocate a person or a family, it takes a lot of collaboration within the community,” Tubsuwan said.
Tiwald has not finished. She has more online donations. And she’s still looking for a cradle. But she doesn’t worry about finding one.
“The people of Lincoln, they know how to provide for those in need.”
How to help
Catholic Social Services has set up a gift registry for those wishing to purchase items online for Afghan refugees resettled in Lincoln.
For more information and the online registry, visit: cssisus.org/helprefugees