St. Ambrose Occupational Therapy Students Providing a Traditional Thanksgiving Meal for Area Refugees

(Rock Island, IL) Approximately 50 refugee families from eight countries speaking eleven different dialects will gather for a traditional Thanksgiving meal and family reading night thanks to the effort of some local college students.  The Spring Forward Family Reading Night will take place on Thursday, November 16 from 5:00-6:30 pm at the Church of Peace (1114 12th Street Rock Island).

The evening will include a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and students reading to refugee families. St. Ambrose University students from Dr. Christine Urish and Dr. Julie Jones’ Occupational Therapy (OT) classes have also been collecting books to read and give to the children. The immigrants and refugees are attending English Learner classes at the Church of Peace come from many different countries including Burma and the Republic of Congo.

The St Ambrose OT students began collecting books when their classes began in August and have at least one book to give every child on Family Reading Night.  Several of the OT students will be reading to the entire group, playing guitars and singing songs.  In addition to supplying the refugees and all their families with a full dinner, they will receive a sack filled with full size self-care supplies (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant).

Dan McNeil, the Director of Spring Forward Learning Center, said, “It’s Spring Forward’s mission to provide free educational opportunities for individuals in Rock Island. The program has helped so many families adjust to their new life in our community and we are so proud to be a part.”

Spring Forward Learning Center is celebrating ten years as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, serving children and families in the Rock Island-Milan School District by offering free education programs for families in need. This year, Spring Forward will serve more than 600 children and adults in our after-school, summer enrichment and family literacy programs.

 ***The media is invited to attend the dinner and interview students, refugees and the organizers of the event. The event is not open to the public.*

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