Northwest Arkansans Filling Backpacks for Immigrant Children

FAYETTEVILLE, AR-- The border battle, intensifying Friday night around the nation and in Arkansas.

On Friday Republicans rejected a revised immigration reform bill because it didn't include policy changes that make it easier to deport children back to Central America.

The house has okayed a nearly 700-million-dollar response to the border crisis. But the senate says it has no plans to take it up.

Meanwhile, a Northwest Arkansas city wants to become a 'sanctuary city' for those children in need.

Folks here see what's happening at the U.S. border and with no end to the crisis in sight, they are taking matters into their own hands.

Reverend, Lowell Grisham, can barely walk through his office at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Fayetteville.

Grisham said, "We've got a mountain of backpacks. So many of these children come with virtually nothing. This is a chance to give them some clean clothes, some toiletries, a little something to get them by."

The backpacks are from folks in Northwest Arkansans, and on Monday, they'll be shipped to the Texas border. A non-profit organization there will give them to immigrant children who have come from Central America.

Fayetteville mayor, Lionald Jordan, said "It's a grass roots movement and the people are coming out and they are saying these children are in need and we want to help."

Mayor Jordan is proud of people for reaching out in this time of need. He has been vocal about the crisis at the border...meeting with various groups in recent weeks.

"When I saw pictures of those children, many of them are the same age as my grandchildren and my heart went out to them."

Gladys Tiffany is equally concerned. She says the heated rhetoric surrounding the situation at the border is misleading, so she and her team at the Omni Center are focusing on educating the public.

Tiffany said, "The idea that small children or children of any kind are coming across the border has become such a terrible threat. As people begin to understand what the situation is, they are going to see that refugee children are not the threat. People being forced to flee violence just touches right to the heart, the things that we see that need to be addressed in the world."

As the border battle continues to worsen to our south, families are separated, and children are desperate for a better life.

Local organizations here are hoping to give them a little piece of home.

Reverend Grisham said, "Hopefully they will get to a place where they will be safe and secure, but in the meantime, they will at least have a backpack with some of the essentials."

Mayor Jordan said, "I believe now that the heart of the city is going to go out to those children. That's what I believe."

Groups in Fayetteville are also trying to find a way to house immigrant children, but that is still in the planning stages.

If you would like to drop off backpacks for kids before Monday, August 4, here is a list of items needed from Reverend Grisham:

-Age ranges, 2-11 years.
-Put a tag on the outside that says the approximate age and gender for the recipient.
Item list:
Underwear (new)
Clothing (t-shirts, shorts, etc.)
Socks (new)
Flip-Flops (new)
Toothpaste/Toothbrush (new)
Reusable water bottle
Hair brush (new)
Soap and soap dish (new)
Coloring books/crayons
Age appropriate books
Stuffed animal (clean)

Backpacks can be dropped off at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Fayetteville.

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