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Phoenix nonprofit gives books & clothes to help foreign students adjust to new life

Posted at 6:31 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-26 13:18:06-05

PHOENIX — A Phoenix nonprofit gave out new books and clothes to students at Valencia Newcomer School in the Alhambra Elementary School District.

All 170 students at the school recently moved to the United States from another country. None of them speak English when they start school.

"This year is the first year to welcome Afghanistan families, Turkey, Venezuela, Guatemala, Cuba, Syria, Sudan," said Principal Lynette Faulkner. "They get one year of intensive instruction in language development and social and emotional supports as they transition."

Part of that support comes through partnerships with nonprofits, including the Assistance League of Phoenix, which helps mostly low-income children in the Valley.

Thursday as part of its literacy initiative, volunteers with the nonprofit gave each student at Valencia Newcomer a new book. Friday, they also had a bus filled with clothes as part of their Operation School Bell.

"They get shoes, which are always a big hit. As part of their clothing package they get shirts, pants, shorts, they get underwear, socks, a belt, sweatshirts," said Aimee Runyon, the CEO.

"Our children are very thankful for a book, for new clothes, a lot of them didn't have those types of resources in their home countries," said Faulkner.

Faulkner said these resources help create a safe space for them.

"When they step on campus, they feel safe, and when our students feel safe, learning can occur," she said.

But more importantly, it tells the students: You're valued.

"I think the bigger difference it makes though, is that they see that there are people in the community that don't know them, and are not family, that aren't friends, but they care about their well-being," said Runyon.

This week, the Assistance League of Phoenix gave out more than 2,000 books to students in the Valley.