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Giving Tuesday | Des Moines neighborhood in need of support this holiday season

The Oakridge Neighborhood is a very diverse population with more than 72% being refugees. Donations like toiletries and winter clothes can be life-changing for some.

DES MOINES, Iowa — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above is from March 16, 2021. 

Giving Tuesday is all about giving back to the community in one way or another. It could be time volunteering, money or even more basic items like winter clothes and toothbrushes. 

All year-round, the Oakridge Neighborhood is thankful for donations received. 

"We don't necessarily focus on Giving Tuesday in general," said Veleta Lucas-Empty, Hope Initiative case manager. "Because Oakridge always has needs, and during this holiday timeframe, it's always a really good time for people to give." 

The Oakridge Neighborhood has about 1,000 residents, and 99% are considered low-income. Overall, 53% of residents are children under 18 years old. Refugees and immigrants make up around 72% of the community, according to Lucas-Empty. 

"And some of them that do live here, this is their first year experiencing winter," Lucas-Empty said. "So that's why, you know, we kind of focus on the coats and the hats and gloves and things that you cannot buy with food stamps or tend to have a difficult time getting at a food bank." 

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For those who are not sure how to give back on Tuesday, Lucas-Empty has a few ideas on how to do so for Oakridge residents. 

"You can give gift cards to Walmart or gift cards to Target or even gift cards to Hy-Vee," she said. "A lot of our tenants are able, they do have transportation or they can take a bus." 

Another way to give back is to adopt a senior resident through the "Adopt a Senior" program. 

"We have a 'Silver Oaks' component to Oakridge, and so those are most of our senior individuals," Lucas-Empty said. 

These residents are single and don't have families in the neighborhood. Lucas-Empty said items like puzzles, knitting supplies or other hobby ideas are great gift ideas.

The Oakridge Neighborhood opened a new basketball court last summer and it also has a soccer field for kids to play on, so sporting items are also a good thing to donate. 

"We could definitely utilize the balls to go with those. A lot of our residents don't have them or they have like one or two and then they tend to get lost. So if we have those things on hand, that will be really handy," Lucas-Empty said.

More information on donating to the Oakridge Neighborhood can be found by clicking/tapping here.  

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