Boise & Garden City

Community response to theft from refugee garden ‘overwhelming.’ Here’s best way to help.

Boise pastor talks about refugee garden thefts

There were two thefts from refugee gardens behind Hillview United Methodist Church on Ustick in Boise, surveillance cameras on the church show. Pastor Brenda Sene talks about what the garden means, and how it has brought the community together.
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There were two thefts from refugee gardens behind Hillview United Methodist Church on Ustick in Boise, surveillance cameras on the church show. Pastor Brenda Sene talks about what the garden means, and how it has brought the community together.

Members of Hillview United Methodist Church have delivered fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from their own gardens.

Bishop Kelly High School offered to do a produce drive to collect fresh veggies from staff and students.

Others have called to offer cash to help cover the costs of a security fence.

“It has been overwhelming the love that the community has showed our refugee gardeners,” Hillview United Methodist Church pastor Brenda Sene said of Boiseans’ response to news that thieves stole fresh produce from a large garden behind the church last week and over the weekend.

These gardeners are refugees from Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Ethiopia and Nepal. They grow vegetables primarily to feed their families, but also because they enjoy gardening.

“They cry when they hear that people have called to offer things,” Sene said late Tuesday afternoon.

She said no one has taken donations because “they are sure someone else needs it more.”

All donations of fresh produce to the church will be used for a free community meal that it is hosting from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday. All are welcome at the end-of-month meal.

“We do it at the end of the month because we know that many people run out of money,” Sene said.

She said 75 to 100 people typically come to the community meal. Many church members attend, but about 60 percent to 70 percent are not.

So what can the community do to help the refugee gardeners? Contribute to the church fund set up to cover the cost of building a security fence and/or join in the effort to build the fence.

“Just send a check and put in the memo line ‘refugees,’” Sene said. The mailing address for the church is 8525 W. Ustick Road, Boise, ID 83704.

Another option to help: Donate to the rummage sale the church is having on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Anyone can donate or pick up items at the rummage sale, Sene said. All items are free. Furniture, kitchen and other houseware items are always needed.

She said the church likely will allow the refugees to have first look at the items donated to the rummage sale.

A Boise Police Department spokeswoman told the Statesman on Wednesday that police are investigating the theft of produce from the refugee garden.

Interested in helping out? Call Pastor Sene at the church by calling 208-375-0392, or e-mailing, bsene@msn.com.

Thieves stole vegetables from the refugee garden behind Hillview United Methodist Church last week. This video is from the church's surveillance camera. The suspects arrived in a black SUV and left quickly when a refugee gardener came in a white car.

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