'Yoga for Freedom' serves as fundraiser to help separated families at U.S. - Mexico border

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - A group in Iowa City met this Independence Day with the goal to provide independence to immigrants at the U.S. - Mexico border, but they did it through yoga.

The only sounds in the room at Old Brick were of a cello and a yoga instructor. People searched for serenity in the more than two-hour session.

But organizers like Erin Landsee, who is a yoga instructor in the area, said this morning's class was for more than those that were on the mats in the room.

"For me, it was a way to balance the holiday and do something that I feel is active in making a little bit of a chance," Landsee said.

Landsee was seeking donations for the nonprofit Freedom For Immigrants, a national effort that recently expanded to eastern Iowa.

"These funds will go to help immigrants who are detained make phone calls and supplement their nutrition with food from the commissary," said Aaron Silander, a member of the eastern Iowa chapter of the nonprofit.

"Generally, people will pay a decent amount of money to take a yoga class," Landsee said. "So, [I thought] just do it and put it toward the cause."

By the end of the session, the room was full. The large jar of money at the front door was also filled to the top. Between an online fundraiser, Landsee organized on Facebook and the jar of donations Thursday, Landsee said they have raised nearly $3,000 in less than two weeks.

"I was overwhelmed with the turnout and the jar of money is- I can hardly handle it," Landsee said.

"I'm so grateful," Silander said. "It was a great turnout today. It's just kind of overwhelming, it was really wonderful."

Landsee said she will continue to take donations for Freedom For Immigrants through an online fundraiser until July 6. For information on her fundraiser, click here.