NEW YORK (PIX11) — The arrival of migrants in New York City has been controversial. But two Upper West Side women say politics aside, they just want to lend a helping hand to their new neighbors.

Emily Kimberl and Rachel Nelson were out walking their dogs one evening earlier this week. As they walked past the Park West Hotel, their adorable pups drew the attention of children outside the hotel, and then the ladies got to talking to the parents. 

“They just kept saying ‘clothes, clothes,’ and we thought they were looking for a store to buy clothes,” said Kimberl. “They were like ‘we have no money.’ We were like give us ten minutes. We ran up to our apartment and collected as much as we could.”

The women spurred into action, organizing a collection from other neighbors as well. With cash donations from family and friends, they also raised $1,000 in six hours. Soon, they amassed the basics, such as clothes, food, toiletries, diapers, even toys and crayons. They dropped off the items at the hotel, to directly give the donations to the asylum seekers. 

“Stopping and actually having a conversation with them and to see there are children here and these are families with nothing,” said Nelson. “It’s hard not to do something.”

The Park West is one of the locations the city is using to provide temporary housing for migrants. The hotel has 126 beds and not every room has been earmarked for asylum seekers. The Park West is only able to house a tiny fraction of the roughly 7,500 asylum seekers who have arrived by the busloads, sent here by the governors of Texas and Arizona, border states the migrants crossed into seeking refuge in the United States. 

Word of the women’s grassroots efforts has spread. PIX11 News encountered others dropping off bags of clothing.

New York City has a right to shelter law – meaning the city is legally responsible to provide emergency housing for families in need. Mayor Eric Adams has said the migrants are being used as political pawns and has appealed to the federal government for help.

As Kimberl and Nelson get to know their new neighbors, the asylum seekers say it’s the generosity and humanity of complete strangers like the two women they’ve just met, that may have the biggest reach.

“The families are visibly appreciative,” said Kimberl. “They’re just so thankful. They know how to say thank you, that’s for sure.”

“You want to welcome them to the neighborhood so it’s easy to give,” added Nelson. “It’s not surprising for this community and I’m really proud to live here and live in this district and to see how quickly we rise together.”