Daisy Garcia Montoya
Editorial Assistant

Local organizations will celebrate World Refugee Day on June 20 at Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center, 825 Euclid Ave.

In recent years, the Jewish Vocational Centers have partnered with local organizations to celebrate World Refugee Day, a day to raise awareness about refugees around the world.

This year’s celebration will be drive-thru or walk-up from noon until 2 p.m. in order to comply with social distancing and other health restrictions required by the city’s State of Emergency guidelines for COVID-19.

“World Refugee Day is important especially in this COVID-19 period because the plights of refugees never rest or go away, hence the need to continue to highlight refugee issues via World Refugee Day,” said Martin Okpareke, Community Outreach & Refugee Family Strengthening Program Manager at Jewish Vocational Service.

Okpareke, along with the World Refugee Day committee, is expecting around 200 people to attend the event. Those who drive-thru or walk up will receive health & hygiene kits, safety information and a pre-packaged meal.

More than two dozen local organizations and businesses are joining this effort by donating items for the event. Among those are Charlie Hustle and Kansas City University, who are donating hand sanitizer and masks. The health and hygiene kits every participant will receive include shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, nail clippers, mouth wash, masks and hand sanitizer.

In addition, a 44-page Color Your COVID-19 coloring book created by the Northeast Chamber of Commerce will be handed out. The coloring book was compiled by entries from local residents and artists after the Chamber put out a call for coloring page submissions. The submissions illustrate health safety measures such as hygiene care and social distance that are recommended measures for the pandemic to help non-English speakers better understand.

The Northeast is a fast-growing home to thousands of refugees, said Rebecca Koop, Business & Community Events Director at the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, calling them “our new Americans.”

“Northeast Kansas City has a rich culture, strong business presence, and diverse representation. Our New American community embodies the culture, food, language, and religions of countries around the world. Together, we make the Historic Northeast a special place,” Koop said.