This article was written by Laura Matus.

Sticky notes posted on the walls was the only way a refugee family could decorate their apartment to make it feel like home, even though home for them was thousands of miles away.


Emmilie Whitlock | Courtesy Photo

It is a year after “I Was a Stranger”, an initiative started by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was launched. Members of the Church were invited to reach out to refugees and extend a hand of help. Krystal Palmer, a 2016 alumna who majored in marriage and family studies from BYU-Idaho, and a full-time mother with two children decided to act upon the initiative.

Wondering how to help, Palmer said she called the refugee center located in Twin Falls and found out there was something they were missing: art. It was around the same time Palmer met Emmilie Whitlock, founder of Rexburg for Refugees and a BYU-I communication teacher. Rexburg for Refugees is a non profit organization where community members can help by donating gifts and money which are taken to the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City.

Touched by her passion to reach out to others, Palmer said she started to work alongside Whitlock, they organized an art drive for refugees where 8×10 painted canvases are collected to be donated to the Refugee Center. The center will then distribute them through the Twin Falls, Idaho area.



Emmilie Whitlock | Courtesy Photo

The art drive was launched on Oct. 12, 2017 and it will end on Dec. 1, 2017.

“The purpose of this art drive is to bless the refugees in Twin Falls, Idaho,” Palmer said.

Palmer said her wish is to welcome the refugees and uplift them. Even though the community they are working with is mostly in the Rexburg area. Palmer said they have reached out to local and amateur artists who want to donate art for refugees. They said the response has been really supportive. They also accept emailed donations.

Different events have also been hosted to obtain more painting donations. The next event to be held will be a “Ladies Night” on Saturday, December 2 at 7 p.m to 10 p.m in Twin Falls, Idaho where a painting activity will occur, accompanied with food.

“The women who attend will have the option to donate or keep their painting.” Palmer said.

For more information, email the organization at

Visit their Facebook page, Painting for Refugees.


Emmilie Whitlock | Courtesy Photo