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About us

Stock the Shelves provides what food stamps won’t

and stretched incomes can’t cover

by giving Chicago area refugees and their families the household and hygiene supplies they need to lead thriving lives. Despite their best efforts, many refugees strain each month to stretch their earnings to purchase the indispensable household and hygiene supplies food stamps don’t cover. Striving to close that gap, every fourth Wednesday of the month, Stock the Shelves drives a truck filled with many of the  items refugees need  to a location in the West Ridge neighborhood of Chicago, where volunteers set up a mini-store stocked with new, unopened items. Refugees arrive early, check in, then shop the tables, choosing the items they need for the month. We do our best to supply them with as much as we can. The more donations and dollars we have for purchasing, the better able we are to meet their needs.

It’s that simple, and vitally important in closing the gap between what their incomes and food stamps won’t cover.

The Stock the Shelves Story

In 2016, First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette was matched with two newly arrived refugee families. It quickly became clear that monthly incomes plus food stamps couldn’t cover the cost of the basic household and hygiene supplies they needed to thrive as they transitioned to life in Chicago.

In fact, food stamps can’t be used to purchase any non-food items. Reaching out to a team of congregations including Sukkat Shalom and First Congregational Church

of Wilmette, Stock the Shelves was born. Cash and product donations began pouring in from individuals, schools and congregational members. Stock the Shelves loaded the items on to a rented truck, set up a mini-store and invited refugees to shop for what they needed among the new, unopened items.

Today, Stock the Shelves is a year-round, once-monthly resource, providing nearly 500 Chicago area refugees and families with precisely those 15 household and hygiene supplies they most need. Stock the Shelves is now an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

No Feminine Pads, No School.​

Food stamps only cover food. On average, school-aged refugee girls miss 2.5 months of school a year because they don’t have pads. How can they take advantage of an education they can’t access?


And how can a parent accomplish anything without having diapers for their baby? How can they leave the house, get to work, do anything, really, with a baby who doesn’t have a diaper?


Every one of the 15 household and hygiene supplies on the Stock the Shelves list is essential for refugees to lead thriving lives filled with the promise they bring with them when they arrive. Going on an interview, succeeding at a new job, navigating daily life, they’re all unthinkable without access to these basic necessities.

Note: Refugees must register to receive Stock the Shelves supplies. Required documentation includes a valid photo identification, proof of refugee status and proof of current address that matches the photo identification.


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