Welcome Blanket is a crowd-sourced collective action of art and activism. By design, we connect with host institutions to display all of our Welcome Blankets and notes together. Then, we pack up these beautiful and heartfelt works and distribute them to refugee resettlement partners.
We are currently in between hosts. One of our refugee resettlement partners (IRC) has come to us with an urgent ask: 1000 handmade blankets for asylum seekers who have just been released from detention. We are naming this action “Welcome Blanket On Call”
While we won’t have a physical gallery show for this special "on call" situation, we will be creating one online. We need your help! Before sending your blanket, please take pictures we can share of your beautiful work here. We will list your name, city and state (never your email or full address). If you would like your submission to be anonymous, please let us know so we can honor that choice.
Show your love.
“These blankets provide a warm, handmade welcome to asylum seekers recently released from detention, who have been through so much already on their journey. The knowledge that someone cares enough to send handmade blankets makes a huge impact, especially when many families with children are released at bus stations or churches with few or no belongings. These blankets provide both comfort and warmth to what has been a difficult journey for many.”
-Madelynn Paz, IRC’s Supply Chain Supervisor
Welcome Blanket sees this special case as an opportunity for us to proactively, positively, creatively and meaningfully help asylum seekers and reuniting families who are in limbo.
WELCOME BLANKET ON CALL: CALL TO ACTION
What: Welcome Blanket on Call is designed to help our partner IRC to welcome new asylum seekers to the US with the IRC. Welcome Blanket has been specifically focused on refugees resettling in the United States specifically because it is a good way in for all of us to talk about the complexities of immigration while knowing that we know who our refugee neighbors are better than we know each other. We distribute our Welcome Blanket packages through refugee resettlement groups and leave the understanding of how to give and who to give to to them.
With Welcome Blanket On Call, we are responding to a call to action from our partner the IRC who have been working with both refugees and asylees. There is a huge need to help asylum seekers who are trying to find safe harbor in our country, many of whom are released from detention because they have presented a credible reason to be here and are awaiting a hearing to determine their fate. Many of these asylum seekers arrive at the Phoenix bus station with little to nothing.
Why: Because you want to show your support in a personal way. Because seeking asylum is a human right. Because if you were ever faced with having to run for your life, you would hope that someone would treat you with dignity and respect. Because there are people who are caught in limbo, released for their court hearing and having to wait on average over 700 days. Because you know you can make a difference and this is one small way to do it.
Who: People seeking asylum in the United States in the time and space between being released because they have a credible reason to seek asylum and being able to plead their case. Families being reunited.
Make a blanket. Share your care. The main idea is to give something from your hands to a new neighbor with love. 40”X40” is preferred and here is a pattern to get you started. (Strong preference for machine-washable Welcome Blankets.) For everyone who loves Welcome Blanket, and is not a crafter, this is a great opportunity to jump in. If you are craft-curious, a no-sew fleece blanket will work well, too!
1. Make a blanket
2. Write a note
Write a note: In this situation, we know that a minority of those seeking asylum will be granted asylum (only 17% this year), so we want to send love that sets the right tone. They may be temporary neighbors who have fled persecution and are seeking safety, have been incarcerated and are now in a new chapter. Our basic template is in Spanish (we know many are more likely to speak Spanish than English, though what you write can be in any language!)
3. Upload pics of your work
Upload images of your Welcome Blanket and Note. I made a simple survey with an opportunity to share your family’s immigration/migration/relocation story and share any extra images you would like. Full disclosure, I would love to publish these as a book sometime in the future, so if you don’t want your name mentioned, please just tick “anonymous”. I will never publish or share your email or full address (just city, state), it’s only information for me to be able to contact you in the future and know where our community is.
Pic 1: your Welcome Blanket – please try to photograph so that the shape of the image of your welcome blanket looks like a rectangle/square
Pic 2: your note
Pic 3 or more: other images you would like to share
Send your Welcome Package to:
International Rescue Committee/Welcome Blanket
c/o Madelynn Paz, Supply Chain Supervisor
4425 West Olive Ave. #400
Glendale, AZ 85302
If you are working in a group, sending in bulk is fantastic!
Repeat and spread the word! 1000 blankets is a tall order, and the more people involved, the faster we can fulfill this request.
4. Send your Welcome Blanket
The premise is simple: welcome our newest neighbors, even if they may be temporary. Support our partners in ways they need. Find ways to make a difference and keep up the amazing work.
Thank you to each and every person who is participating.
In solidarity and love,