Nu Skin employees help provide 'soft landing' for Afghan refugees coming to Utah

Marilyn Contreras-Pinegar and Shelly Hester cut felt shapes to be used in a language learning game for Afghan refugees on Monday in Salt Lake City.

Marilyn Contreras-Pinegar and Shelly Hester cut felt shapes to be used in a language learning game for Afghan refugees on Monday in Salt Lake City. (Emily Ashcraft,

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PROVO — Employees at Nu Skin took time away from their typical jobs on Monday to assemble learning kits and toys for refugees coming to Utah from Afghanistan — a group 10 single moms and 40 children.

The kits are part of an effort by Nu Skin to provide items they believe refugees might need in their first two weeks in Utah. In addition, the company's restaurant is preparing microwaveable Afghan meals, NuSkin donated $20,000 to the International Rescue Committee, and employees were given the opportunity to purchase items for the women and children from an Amazon shopping cart.

Shelly Hester, a senior scientist at Nu Skin, helped with the project as part of her involvement in the Women Rising employee resource group at the company. Hester cut out some felt stars, to be used with a language learning activity in which words are ironed onto the felt in both the refugee's native languages and in English.

She said that the toy would feel more personal for the children since it is handmade and could help with language immersion. Hester said she thinks the kids will like having a hands-on activity, since it is something her own children would enjoy.

"Helping employees engage in projects like this ... makes them feel like they're making a difference in the world and that they are doing good things through their day-to-day job," Hester said.

Service projects like this one, she added, allow employees to connect in a different way with co-workers because they are doing something fun. The project also allowed her to interact with employees in other levels of the company.

Josh Wilson, who runs the community outreach program at Nu Skin, said different groups of employees wanted to lend their own skills and expertise to contribute to the project. The Women Rising group is helping put kits and learning activities together; another group of employees is making toys; some employees have donated money or purchased necessities for the refugees; and, the cooks at Nu Skin's in-house restaurant volunteered to research and make new recipes to be able to provide a familiar meal.

The company is trying to provide items it believes the group of refugees might need in the two weeks while they wait for more permanent housing. The company partnered with the International Rescue Committee and Stitching Hearts International to develop its project, after employees expressed interest in doing something for Afghan refugees coming to Utah.

"What we really want to do is help them have a soft landing when they've left their homeland and they're in a brand new place, and we want them to feel welcome and safe," said Ruth Todd, Nu Skin's chief reputation officer. She said this was just one of Nu Skin's many employee-run humanitarian efforts.

"People on this campus know that there are things going on all the time to help and just be a force for good and empower other people to improve their lives, that's just an important part of who we are," Todd said.


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Emily Ashcraft joined as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.


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