Honor society, Muslim Student Association partner to help refugees


The Phi Theta Kappa “Welcoming Arms” project donation bin sits in the Center for Leadership and Development. PTK is accepting donations through the end of the semester. (Photo by Hannah Darden)

Hannah Darden

The Phi Theta Kappa honor society has partnered with the Muslim Student Association at ARC to create “Welcoming Arms,” a support project providing care packages and clothing kits for Syrian refugee families in San Diego.

The students are working with the Syrian Community Network in San Diego to create and deliver the items, which will be hand-delivered by PTK President Julio Luis Gopez in late January.

They’re aiming for 200 care packages and “as much clothing as they can get,” according to Gopez.

“We wanted to bring our focus this way. This has been labeled as a serious problem, and we want to help alleviate it,” Gopez said. “We wanted to do something to help out the groups most in need.”

PTK is accepting donations of clothes and personal hygiene items. They have a bin inside the Center for Learning and Development, adjacent to Starbucks, for these items.

They are also accepting monetary donations – contact PTK to make arrangements, or visit a local business with a donation jar. According to PTK member Mariya Katsman, Old Soul Coffee Co. and Naked Lounge locations have donation jars.

PTK’s clothing collection is separate from the ARC Honors Club’s Winter Clothing Drive, which is collecting winter clothing for local families in need.

The care packages will include items like toothbrushes, soap, deodorant, diapers and feminine hygiene products, but will also include small comfort items and special books that PTK is creating.

The honor society is working with elementary schools and community members to gather letters of support, which will be compiled into a book along with art pieces.

The drawings, paintings and sculptures donated to the project will all follow cultural guidelines that the MSA helped PTK set.

Gopez anticipates having new flyers up on campus by next week detailing guidelines for writing letters or creating art pieces.

Students that want to help can join project committees to help with material collections, art creation, marketing and other aspects of the project. They don’t have to be members of PTK or the MSA to join.

“I commend (Gopez) for taking the initiative to do this,” said Frankie Johnson, a student personnel assistant at the CL&D. “It’s not easy … but he just keeps going. I really commend his commitment to helping the Syrian refugees.”

Gopez said they chose to do the project in San Diego instead of locally because there’s a higher concentration of refugees in need there.

For those who wish to help Sacramento refugees, contact Opening Doors Sacramento – it’s the local organization assisting refugees.

For more information, to make a monetary donation or to join a project committee, contact PTK at [email protected] or by calling or texting (916) 872-3331.