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Immigrant Allies working to address gaps

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Immigrant Allies has been working to get food and resources to families in Marshalltown since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Immigrant Allies of Marshalltown has been focusing on issues faced by immigrant and refugee families.

Immigrant Allies is working with the Community Response Coalition — a network of social service, education, community and health partners — and the statewide immigrant advocacy network in Iowa, to see where gaps may occur.

With the help of the Marshall County Community Foundation, the Immigrant Allies Helping Fund was set up to provide small grants to Coalition organizations to help immigrants and refugee families whose need exceeds help they may qualify for. Donations to this fund are tax-deductible and can be made online or checks can be sent.

Many immigrant families did not receive a government stimulus check.

Immigrant advocates across the country have been calling on those who don’t need their check to consider donating part of it to help immigrant community members, many who are working in jobs considered essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Immigrant Allies has been working to get food and resources to families in Marshalltown since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Maria Gonzalez, who works at MICA and is a co-coordinator with Immigrant Allies, heard families of a gap in which families were struggling with basic needs like food. While people were appreciative of the services of organizations like Salvation Army and the Emergency Food Box, there was a need for foods that would be more culturally familiar. 

“Neighbors coming together to make sure we all have a meal on the table gives us a sense of ‘you are not alone, and there is hope,’ “ said Gonzalez. 

Since La Carreta started offering bulk food sales from the restaurant to help people get food for their households at a low cost, Joa LaVille of Immigrant Allies reached out to restaurant owner, Alfonso Medina.

LaVille wanted to see if the restaurant would help get food pantries more traditional food for immigrant and refugee households. Medina said they not only would partner, but would also donate up to $500 of food.

An online fundraiser was set up to raise money from Immigrant Allies supporters, and then connect Salvation Army with La Carreta to order food items like jasmine rice, beans, ground beef, chicken and vegetables.  La Carreta employees divided up the food and delivered the items. 

“This project was a great example of many of the strengths in our community. We had all these different people working to make a difference for their neighbors, including immigrants themselves donating and contributing,” LaVille said. “Sometimes people focus on only the ways that immigrants may need help, but we see every day the ways that local immigrants can also be strong allies that make our community better for us all.”

TO DONATE TO THE IMMIGRANT ALLIES HELPING FUND:

Make checks out to CFMC, referencing the Immigrant Allies fund and mail to Marshall County Community Foundation, 11 N. First Ave., Marshalltown, IA 50158.

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