GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As thousands of undocumented children continue to pour into the U.S. over the Mexican border and Congress continues to debate how to deal with it, one West Michigan woman is jumping into the mix to offer help of her own.
Comedian Danielle DeVelasco wants to help children being brought to facilities in Michigan through laughter, which is why she is planning an event she's dubbed "Comedy for a Cause," which will take place August 21 7-9 p.m. at The Landing Lounge, 270 Ann Street NW in Grand Rapids.
"I feel like I have a lot to give back to the world," DeVelasco said. "I've seen all the stories, and then you guys started covering it, and I realized we'd be housing them at the facilities here in Michigan and thought, 'Wow, that's so close, I can actually do something and get hands-on involved.'"
While national and statewide protests continue over the highly contentious issue, DeVelasco is using her event to raise money for the Border Kids Relief Project, a group that partners with other organizations to provide relief work and resources for undocumented children. She says if people don't feel comfortable giving money, donations like clothing or books will also be accepted. The Border Kids Relief Project has a list of most needed items here.
"It's just an opportunity for people to come and be in a lighthearted atmosphere," she said. "And maybe we can change the hearts and minds of a few people who are looking at these kids and seeing them as a problem as opposed to what can we do to get in there and help."
Coming from a Hispanic background -- her grandfather who was an immigrant -- the issue hits close to home for DeVelasco. She says she's prepared to deal with backlash from those who don't see eye-to-eye with her on the issue.
"I've already gotten a lot of 'Why are you doing this, you should be spending you're time helping people who deserve the help,'" she said. "(The kids) just want a chance, just like everybody else. This is what America is about."
The event will feature local stand-up comedians Chase Nelson, Jermey Clymer, and DeVelasco. The Chicago-based band The Dead Woods will also be performing.
DeVelasco says all of the donations and money will go to the Border Relief Project, and she's requested a majority of that go toward undocumented children specifically being brought to Michigan.