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The CoSI Welcome to the Heartland Campaign – Helping refugees in Iowa – Phase 2

About one month ago, CoSI, the Grinnell based volunteer organization Community Support for Immigrants, began Phase 1 of the Welcome to the Heartland campaign to help over 600 Afghans and refugees, including the families of those who had assisted United States military operations in Afghanistan. CoSI is pleased to announce that the Grinnell community has donated $12,000 thus far. These funds are being forwarded to USCRI in Des Moines, who is helping the families build a new life in central Iowa. 

CoSI is now starting Phase 2 of the campaign during the month of March. Phase 2 is reaching out to request more help from the wider Grinnell community, recommending additional ways to support the Afghan and refugee families:

  • Donate online purchases: Several Des Moines resettlement agencies (USCRI, Catholic Charities, & Lutheran Services) have up-to-date online wish lists which allow you to purchase urgently needed household items from online vendors and send them directly to the agency you choose. John Ashby, co-chair of the CoSI Steering Committee, said “I bought a teapot because I enjoyed choosing a gift that I knew the refugees would appreciate and Amazon even mailed it directly to the agency for me. Items in your price range are available.” Visit for links to the wish lists and instructions on making online purchases.
  • Share the news with your friends, family, and neighbors: Refugees arrive in our country with almost nothing, and your generous support helps them to get established. Although resettlement agencies receive some funding from the government, private sector contributions are vital.
  • Continue Donating money: USCRI will distribute gift cards to Afghans and refugees to purchase essential living items such as food supplies, household items, and warm clothing. Donations of any amount are welcome. Mail or drop off your contribution to: CoSI Refugee Drive, First Presbyterian Church, 1025 5th Avenue, Grinnell, Iowa 50112.
  • Suggest ways that your business, church or civic organization might be able to contribute to welcoming our new neighbors. Contact CoSI by email at, or 641-316-6868.

As the situation evolves, CoSI will share additional opportunities to support the Afghan and refugee families.

If you have any questions for CoSI, or represent a local Grinnell Civic Group or business and would like a CoSI representative to come and talk about the Welcome to the Heartland Campaign, email us at or call at (641) 316-6868.

Thank you for helping to welcome our new Iowa neighbors. 

On Behalf of the CoSI Steering Committee:

Allen Ricks                                                                                                 John Ashby

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Essi Adokou, Joslyn Martinez, and Valery Lopez, along with other members of the St. Mary Catholic college students enjoyed homemade cake pops for the first time.  The St Mary Catholic student college group earned over $200 for the “Welcome to the Heartland” CoSI fund raising effort to help with the resettlement of Afghan and other refugees in central Iowa by selling homemade sweets at the Rosenfield Center on campus. 

CoSI volunteers gathered at the gazebo in Central Park on a beautiful afternoon in early March to send the Phase 1 donations to the “Welcome to the Heartland” campaign on their way.  More than $ 12,000 has been received, to date, to assist with the Afghan resettlement program, following the end of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. Pictured, from left to right, are Francisca Escoriza-Gallardo, Claudia Beckwith, Lynn Cavanagh, Debra Ehrmann, John Ashby, David Ketter, Vanessa Preast (holding the “Welcome to the Heartland” greeting card), Elizabeth Haas, Valerie Benoist, Montie Redenius, and Selva Lehman.   

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