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Eagle Scout Inspires Outpouring of Support for Refugees in Erie

A high school student in Erie, PA, set out on an ambitious Eagle Scout project: to collect 250 household and clothing items for newly arrived refugees who came to Erie seeking freedom and opportunity.  Jeremy Schroeck (pictured right) wanted to help these individuals and families resettled through the International Institute of Erie (IIE) feel welcome and at home in their new community.

For many men, women, and children—unable to return home due to ongoing violence in their native countries—the only option to find a safe, permanent place to live is by being resettled in another country, such as the United States. The IIE, a field office of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, and other U.S. resettlement agencies rely on the goodwill and generosity of volunteers like Jeremy to help refugees rebuild their lives in America.  

To spread the word about his project and solicit support, Jeremy mailed letters to members of his church, sent emails to friends and family, knocked on neighbors’ doors, and got his Boy Scout troops involved.  His dedication and passion for helping those in need inspired an outpouring of generosity and support, motivating as many as 155 volunteers to sign up for the cause. 

Jeremy was confident that he could meet his goal—but he never expected to exceed it by tenfold.  He collected a whopping 2,500 items, including furniture, household items, kitchenware, linens, winter clothing, personal hygiene products, school supplies, and baby gear. Jeremy’s team loaded the goods into nine vehicles, packed to the brim, and transported them to the Wayside Presbyterian Church in Millcreek for sorting before dropping them off at IIE’s storage space. The total value of the extensive list of collected items donated to IIE added up to about $15,850!

The generosity of Jeremy and the team of volunteers who supported him will put a smile on the faces of many refugees resettled in Erie.  Forced to abandon their homes and belongings and run for their lives, most refugees arrive in the United States with very few worldly possessions. Any bit of assistance from their new communities can make a world of difference in their lives—and bring them that much closer to realizing their hopes and dreams of a safe, prosperous future in the United States.

The International Institute of Erie congratulates Jeremy Schroeck on receiving the Eagle Scout Court of Honor award for his great leadership and community services.  We would also like to extend our gratitude to Jeremy’s supporters who helped coordinate his efforts with our agency: his parents, Carl and Jeanie Schroeck; his scout leader, Paul Neibauer; Oliver Perry Scout Troop 52; all participating volunteers; Holy Cross and Wayside Presbyterian Church; and all the generous donors. 

Learn more about the ways the International Institute of Erie helps refugees start over in the United States >>

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