Omaha organizations donate furniture to refugees

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Several organizations are clearing out unused furniture and helping those who have so little make a house a home.

It’s the goal of churches and non-profits with The Furniture Project in Omaha. The project is aimed at helping refugees become part of the community.

Melanie Gahan is doing a little shopping Saturday morning – not for herself, but for people she hasn’t even met.

Melanie is with Citylight Church and looking to completely outfit a home.

“How many are in the family, what their ages are, and then come here to restore dignity and kind of shop,” Melanie said. “That is to pick out the furniture that would suit the family and that would meet the needs of the size of the family,” she said.

Saturday she’s helping set up housekeeping for an Afghan family of nine.

“And they’ll be able to walk into their house and it will be ready to live in,” she said.

Furniture donations poured in during the morning rain.

Doug Hastings had a lot of quality furniture he needed to get rid of and brought it to The Furniture Project at 108th and J Street.

“It’s heavy oak furniture and we bought it when our kids were little, and they used it and now they’re all grown and out of the house and so we wanted it to go to a good home,” Hastings said.

Saturday’s effort focused on several churches joining together to help refugees coming to Omaha, but this isn’t an exclusive opportunity.

James Barton is the state president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

He said everyone can help in some small way.

“We’re trying to set them up to have their basic needs met but not only that but help them become involved in the community and become part of our community,” Barton said.

With a little muscle, a truck was quickly loaded, filled with furniture and household necessities.

That muscle was also put to work setting up a refugee family at a house at 45th and Grant in North Omaha.

More than a dozen college students from Creighton, UNO and Iowa Western did the honors moving the furniture into the house as part of their ministry program.

“We have these small groups called City Groups that meet on campus,” Creighton University Student Christian Todd said. “We talked a little bit about serving the community this year and I reached out to the serving director at Citylight and she got me connected with the folks here and we just put this whole thing together.”

This marks the 20th refugee family helped through this program since the beginning of the year.

But there’s much more to it.

“It’s not only going to refugee families but it’s also going to victims of violent crime, people coming out of homelessness, people who have had their homes burn down and don’t have anything,” Restoring Dignity Founder Hannah Vlach-Wyble said.

They say it’s not a handout, but a hand-up for those in need.

Donations are accepted free of charge, however, they must be in good condition or working order. No stained mattresses or cushions or non-working appliances.

Anyone can donate, just make an appointment online at The Furniture Project’s website.

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