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Immigrant-owned grocery store in Kirkwood aims to help new immigrants, refugees

Customers can purchase $25 gift cards to donate to the International Institute of St. Louis. In turn, Global Foods will match the donation.
Credit: Global Foods

KIRKWOOD, Mo. — A business built by a family who immigrated to the United States from Thailand wants to help incoming immigrants and refugees build their new lives in St. Louis.

Global Foods Market, a Kirkwood store that sells international foods, has launched a gift card donation program. Customers can purchase $25 gift cards to donate to the International Institute of St. Louis. And, in turn, Global Foods will match the donation up to $1,500.

“As immigrants from Thailand, my parents built Global Foods to offer a sense of community and comfort to families who relocate to St. Louis,” said Shayn Prapaisilp, vice president of Global Foods Group, in a press release. “Many of our customers are refugees, and we want to create a safe space for our new neighbors to shop and find everything that they need for a home cooked meal with ingredients that they recognize from their home countries.”

The gift card donation program launched Tuesday and will continue through October.

“Our work at the International Institute to help welcome and resettle the Afghans and all refugees who come to St. Louis relies on the community’s support," Arrey Obenson, president of the International Institute of St. Louis said in the release. 

"When the community comes together to contribute what they can afford, we also come together in our hearts. When others extend the gift of hospitality, St. Louis becomes what we’ve always hoped it would be — a welcoming and inclusive place for these new refugees."  

The International Institute is in the process of collecting and sorting donations. For a list of what is needed and how to help, click here.

About 1,200 refugees from Afghanistan are expected to come to Missouri. St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said the St. Louis area is prepared to welcome about 1,000 refugees.