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by Diane Robertson

The news and social media have been flooded with opinions about Muslims, refugees, and immigration. I am not an expert on immigration law. I do not know enough about the war-torn countries that many families and individuals are fleeing to form an opinion on the safety of refugees from those nations. But, I know for certain that despite all the opposition, name calling, and finger pointing, Americans, no matter how they stand politically, are kind and generous and will do what they can.

You see, my family has been among the poor in America. From our experiences with long-term unemployment and underemployment, we know what it is like to be poor in America. We have experienced difficulty finding housing, and keeping up with our family’s needs for food and clothing.

I can’t compare my experience to that of refugees. They have fled homes, lost businesses, and often been separated from family. Many have been in mortal peril as they flee. They come physically and mentally wounded from circumstances over which they had no control.

Having experienced poverty in America, I know that the people in this nation are generous and helpful. My family has been the recipient of unasked-for monetary donations, food, clothing, and household items. We even had a family renting a home to us at low cost to help us get through, after we needed to sell a home that was too expensive for our reduced circumstances.

I know Americans who have taken that generous spirit one step further and helped refugees who have come into their communities.

My sister-in-law’s parents shared their home with a family that fled Vietnam in the 1980’s. My mother has bought brand-new clothing for African refugees living in her area. She took them grocery shopping and helped them get to the government offices they needed to establish their independence. Another sister-in-law befriends refugees in her area and helps them learn the language and feel comfortable. I have a friend who helps refugees get into schools among other things.

I know a number of people who donate regularly to organizations that assist refugees. Americans have generous hearts. They care for their own and they care for others around the world.

Most understand the need for wisdom and safety in these uncertain times. In prudence, Americans continue to give what they can: time, housing, clothing, money. A lot of people can only do a little. But when many do a little, a lot is accomplished.

Whether refugees are in their own neighborhood or on the other side of the world, Americans will continue to find ways to help. While people may disagree on how best to help, assisting the poor and needy is a part of the American spirit.

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