DENVER — After another influx of migrants in Denver, a Facebook group called Highlands Moms & Neighbors organized a donation drive for the refugees.
Sunday morning, dozens of families brought clothes, food and toys to the parking lot of Valdez Elementary. For two hours migrant families, many of them from Venezuela, picked out items they could take back to the city shelter located at the Quality Inn Motel on Speer.
The event was created swiftly after mother Andrea Ryall noticed the need when she dropped off bananas for several of the migrant families.
"After we handed out 10 bunches of bananas, then come all the moms with babies in arms," said Ryall.
Through Facebook, Ryall and dozens of others began putting together a list of items they could donate.
"The need is insane," said Ryall. "There are 2,000 people staying in that shelter to my understanding, plus the people outside, they're hungry, they're cold.”
It wasn't long before the mothers realized they needed a faster and more streamlined way to donate the items. Mother Andrea Rodriguez Cruz quickly took over and organized the event in the school parking lot.
"We see an extreme need, kids and adults without shoes, without jackets, who can't get into the shelter and are staying outside," said Cruz.
Cruz says many of the migrant families are left without support. Language barriers, high work permit costs, and a lack of systemic education are preventing many families from being able to adapt to life here in the United States.
"We really have to help them make calls and navigate, but even we don't really know the system," said Cruz.
The need will only continue to grow. Denver's latest migrant dashboard information showed another influx of migrants, with 132 arriving Saturday.
Cruz and Ryall are happy to provide much-needed support but believe the city needs to take a more active role in helping the refugees.
"We are doing our best to fill that gap until hopefully some organizations come in and do it for them," said Cruz.
But they worry that if action isn't taken soon, it could have dire consequences.
"They've gone through hell to get here and I'm not going to let them just die out on the streets of Denver," said Ryall.