Keeping warm: Local organization kicks off “buy one, give one” program to support Buffalo refugees

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The growing refugee population is coming to Western New York from all over the world. A lot of them have never seen snow! Now a local organization is starting a new program to welcome them to our area.

A Buffalo winter is not always a welcome surprise, even to those born and bred in Western New York. Now the Buffalo blog and business, Rise Collaborative wants refugees, new to Buffalo, to be prepared.
Executive Director Kevin Heffernan is kicking off a buy one, give one program to benefit and celebrate Buffalo refugees. Heffernan said, “When you’re over on Grant Street, and many other parts of the city as well, you get an infusion of culture that you don’t get in other parts of the city. That diversity is really a strength of ours.”

“As Buffalo becomes a growing city for refugees to arrive in, I think our city has certainly reaped the benefits,” Heffernan said. Leaders in this community say those who are new to the area have a lot to adjust to.

Adair Saviola, Director of Development with the International Institute of Buffalo said, “Many times, when refugees come here, they find out very quickly they are coming here, and they arrive with just a suitcase.”

“Some of them come from refugee camps, and when you’re forced out of your home, you don’t worry about what to pack in a suitcase. You just worry about getting to safety.” If you buy one, another one is donated to the International Institute.
That’s something Saviola says will help them adjust to life here. “Not only is this getting something new, its getting something needed in this community,” she said.
Rise Collaborative wants the people who receive the hats to feel welcome here, and a part of Buffalo’s turnaround. Heffernan said, “It’s not just that, it’s new, it’s yours, it’s the message on it. We really do hope the recipients wear them with some pride.”

It’s $22 dollars to buy a hat. For every one that is purchased, a new one will go to a refugee. The sale ends on December 2nd. They’re shipped to you by the middle of the month, just in time for the holidays.

If you’d like to purchase a hat, head to the Rise Collaborative website here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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