One hundred beds, pillows, and bedding accessories arrived in Jacksonville, Florida, this week as a welcoming gift for refugees.
Sent by furniture giant IKEA, the care packages are just a fraction of the company’s plan to donate 5,000 mattresses to refugees throughout the United States. They’re also part of its broader efforts to help refugees around the world.
IKEA is partnering with the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, the International Rescue Committee, the Ethiopian Community Development Council, and various local organizations to deliver the mattresses to refugees who arrive and resettle in the US.
World Relief Jacksonville is the initiative’s Northeast Florida partner, helping with the logistics of locating refugees and installing the furniture.
IKEA’s donation allows the nonprofit to spend its tight resources on other expenses, according to World Relief Jacksonville Director Jose Vega, who spoke with Action News Jacksonville.
“We can save some money [for] the refugees and we can spend it on other things, more important at this point, like one more month of rent for them,” he told the news organization.
Sleeping in a bed at night: It’s easy to take for granted. When you’re a refugee starting over with nothing, it’s not a guarantee. This donation of nearly 100 beds, pillows and bedding from @IKEAUSA will change that for #Jacksonville refugees. Next at 5:30 on CBS47 @ActionNewsJaxpic.twitter.com/6E8pfnDUZ9— Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) May 14, 2018
IKEA launched its “5,000 Dreams” initiative in June 2017 as a way to help refugees adjust to their lives in a new country.
"The 5,000 Dreams program goes hand-in-hand with our vision to create a better everyday life for the many people,” said Samantha Giusti, IKEA US community affairs manager, in a press release. “We are pleased to continue to play a part in helping refugee families build a new life here in our local communities by providing beds and bedding to make their homes more comfortable and ensure a good night’s sleep.”
As of March, the company donated around 2,200 mattresses throughout the US.
Other US cities received shipments of beds this week. In Indianapolis, IKEA delivered more than 50 mattresses this week, and refugees in Orlando received new beds as well. Earlier this month, the International Rescue Committee in Denver received bedding supplies for the refugees it serves.
"Usually refugees arrive in Indianapolis with just one suitcase, maybe two and that's all their earthly belongings," Cole Varga, the executive director of Exodus Refugee, told local news station WTHR. "They've had to leave everything behind, just fleeing violence, persecution and war."
The beds represent a fresh start for people who have fled their home countries and struggled through difficult situations, according to the groups working with IKEA.
“After overcoming significant challenges and experiencing unspeakable hardship, refugees come to the US with barely anything, let alone the essentials they need to start rebuilding their lives,” Jennifer Sime, senior vice president of US programs at the International Rescue Committee, said in a press release.
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“Through our continued work with IKEA’s 5,000 Dreams, we can help refugees build a home in America,” she added. “From there, they can create a space where they and their families can thrive.”
IKEA’s program comes at a time when there are more refugees in the world than at any other time in recorded history, and also when the Trump administration has restricted the flow of refugees into the US.
The company has other efforts across the world to help vulnerable families.
In Syria, IKEA is providing the UN’s refugee agency with 150,000 mattresses for people living in distressed situations. And in Jordan, the company is buying rugs from Syrian refugees as a way to promote local commerce and entrepreneurship.
Global Citizen campaigns to help refugees, and you can take action on this issue here.