Texas Blazers kickoff campaign to help refugees with "cheap lunch"

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Management information systems junior Miguel Martinez prepares a hot dog for a customer of the Texas Blazer’s “Cheap Lunch” fundraiser on the West Mall.
Photo Credit: Chase Karacostas | Daily Texan Staff

New members of Texas Blazers, a men’s honor society and service organization, are hosting a weeklong “cheap lunch” to help Texas refugees by raising money for two resettlement agencies in Austin. 

Nihal Dhamani, one of the group’s new members, said he empathizes with refugees because he is an immigrant. Dhamani moved from Pakistan to the U.S. in 2009, and although he said he received a lot of help, he still faced difficulties adjusting to American society.

“There was a lot of culture shock, some unwelcoming people and a lot of discrimination,” Dhamani said. “Just imagining what [refugees] go through with little or no help with these organizations that are underfunded and overworked, it was just unimaginable.”

Like Dhamani, five of Texas Blazers’ 12 new recruits this semester are immigrants who moved to the U.S. from other countries. 

Dhamani said the issue is personal to him and to the new members, so they decided to make their service project a humanitarian campaign to raise funds and resources for Texas refugees. 

Funds from the weeklong event will go directly to the Refugee Services of Texas and Caritas of Austin, which provide resources to help families in need.

The lunch allows students to choose the price of food items such as burgers, hot dogs, chips and water, which are available on the West Mall from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday.

Dorna Abdi, an economics and international global studies sophomore, said students are more likely to donate money when it’s encouraged in a casual environment. 

“When people come up to [cheap lunch], they feel like it is less forced because it’s their decision to make a donation and help out a good cause,” Abdi said. “I think that is very respectable.”

Next week, Texas Blazers will drive by houses in West Campus, Riverside and North Campus to ask for any canned foods, hygiene items and cleaning and kitchen supplies to give away to the Texas refugee organizations.

Government junior Samuel Cervantes said he wants their campaign to support existing communities by providing simple household items.   

“We want to give those who are already established in Austin the ability to continue,” Cervantes said. “We want to make sure that at the end of the day, refugees are continued to be seen as people, and regardless of your nationality, you are still human, you have basic rights.”