Skip to main content

Denver seeks donations for more than 150 migrants who arrived unexpectedly

Email share
Emergency shelter at one of the city's recreation centers.
Credit: Denver Office of Emergency Management

DENVER — Dozens of cots were placed throughout a Denver recreation center Dec. 6 to make emergency shelter for approximately 150 migrants who arrived in Denver unexpectedly.

The migrants arrived in Denver via bus and because the group exceeded existing capacity in the city, the Denver Office of Emergency Management (OEM) established the shelter at the rec center to create more space.

Citing the “security and sensitivity of this evolving situation,” the Denver OEM is not releasing the name of the rec center.

In a Dec. 8 press conference, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's deputy chief of staff, Evan Dreyer, said the community has been "extremely generous" in offering support to the migrants.

Mikayla Ortega, a spokesperson for the Denver OEM, said the migrants have been "elusive" in talking to city officials, and that there has been little consistency in their stories about how they arrived to the U.S. What the Denver OEM does know is that the migrants were dropped off at Union Station late Monday night and Tuesday morning and eventually made their way to the Denver Rescue Mission.

Colorado Voices

Denver responds to the arrival of more than 150 migrants

"From what we can tell, a majority of these immigrants have come from the country of Venezuela," said Stephen Hinkel, the public relations manager at Denver Rescue Mission. Hinkel said he's not sure which U.S. city the people were sent from, or how they learned of Denver Rescue Mission once they arrived to Union Station.

"This is a community effort," said Hinkel, who added that the Denver Rescue Mission is partnering with other nonprofits and city agencies to hep the migrants. "We all need each other's help to navigate life. And in a city, when you're there for the first time, that person will take as much help as we can give them, and we're going to try to give them that help."

Dreyer, in his press conference, said this week's arrival does not appear to be organized by another state's government.

Republican leaders across the U.S. have been sending migrants to Democrat-led cities like New York City and Washington, D.C. as a way to protest illegal immigration. Earlier this year, migrants from Venezuela arrived at Martha's Vineyard on flights paid for by Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in a move that many people, including some republicans, decried as a cruel political stunt against unsuspecting migrants, many of whom did not speak English.

However, Ortega said the City and County of Denver has been "proactive" in planning for a situation like that. 

[Related: Harvard lawyer suing Ron DeSantis over Martha's Vineyard migrants said briefs could also be used in Texas]

Ortega said the city is working with its nonprofit partners to help connect the migrants with resources. She said the best way for people to help at this time is through monetary donations. The Denver Community Church, Ortega said, is raising money to help the migrants, as is the Colorado Hosting Asylum Network.

"There's a lot of unknowns and a lot of fear. Many people have been traveling for days if not months," said Bianey Bermudez with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. "Along with that journey comes a lot of trauma."

"We really just want to create a very welcoming environment," Bermudez added.

Coloradans for Immigrant Rights is another one of the groups that is organizing help. On Twitter, the organization put a call out for volunteers to work at its welcome center. They are in search of translators, people who can host families, people who can provide meals and more help. More information is available here.

"Overall, we are in high demand for any new clothing for adults in S, M & L with special need for medium in both men’s and women’s," city officials said in a press release. "There is also a special need for winter weather clothing."

The city is accepting physical donations for the migrants Mondays from 5-8 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Temple Emanuel at 51 Grape Street in Denver. 

The city said these items are most needed:

  • New or very gently used men’s winter clothes (small and medium sizes only) - especially jackets, hats, gloves, and sweatpants
  • News socks, underwear/boxers (primarily small and medium men’s), and sports bras
  • Backpacks and/or medium size duffel bags
  • Belts so that individuals can use L and XL men’s pants
  • Men’s work boots
  • Sandals (for shower)


If people would rather donate money, the city is asking that donations be sent to the following organizations:


Organizations who are willing and able to help the migrants should get in touch with the Emergency Operations Center at

Kyle Cooke is the digital media manager at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at

Jeremy Moore is the senior multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at

Related Story

Spotlight Newsletter

Community stories from across Colorado and updates on your favorite PBS programs, in your inbox every Tuesday.

Sign up here!