The recent influx of Afghan refugees into the District has created a need for donations, volunteers and supplies, and you can help.
In the wake of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, Afghan refugees who hold Special Immigrant visas – visas issued to at-risk refugees – started arriving in the DMV region at the end of last month. Several local agencies are collecting funds, supplies and looking for volunteers to help resettle families to aid this new community.
Here’s how you can help:
Where to donate
The Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services is collecting new household items and furnishings to fill apartments for Afghan refugee families. To streamline the donation process, they have compiled an Amazon wish list which includes all of the items, like dish towels and technology, they are looking for.
You can also purchase gift cards for stores like Target, Walmart or Safeway for refugee families who need groceries and other goods. This is a great way to assist refugee families if you want to make a larger financial impact. These gift cards can be sent to The Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services at 80 North Glebe Rd. in Arlington, Va. Students can also send a donation online through its website.
Homes Not Borders is a ministry-based organization that helps immigrants in the DMV area furnish their new homes and apartments. If you’re moving or have extra furniture that you could get rid of, consider donating to Home Not Borders. You can drop off furniture at its warehouse located at 3610 East St. in Landover, Md. daily between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Where to volunteer
The Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, a community non-profit that provides services like foster care and youth development programs, is expecting about 800 Afghan refugees to arrive in the next two months. The focus will be providing Afghan families with transportation, housing and other basic needs for survival.
To assist, you can make an donation online or get involved with the volunteering opportunities that LSS is offering, like serving as a refugee youth mentor or supply coordinator. You can also support the organization by donating essential home supplies like toiletries to make the process of resettlement easier. LSS has compiled two different lists, for the Maryland and Virginia resettlements for reference.
For the Nations D.C., a nonprofit educational program for adults in D.C. who want to learn English, is seeking more volunteers to accommodate the growing need for English education among refugees. There are multiple levels of volunteers needed, from teachers to teaching assistants and site hosts, so you can choose a position that best fits your availability.
How to advocate for immigrant aid
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society is a non-profit organization that works to provide assistance to refugees. HIAS has provided a list of ways, from volunteer opportunities to staying informed, that people can help Afghan refugees on its website.
One action HIAS promotes is advocating for U.S. protection of at-risk Afghans who were unable to escape and expansion of resettlement programs via petitions and contact with congressional representatives.
A petition sponsored by the Daily Kos Liberation League, a liberal group blog site, and Win Without War D.C., a nonprofit foreign policy group calls for the Biden administration to do things like remove the cap on Afghan refugees.
The International Rescue Committee is sponsoring a petition which similarly urges the Biden administration to “leverage U.S. humanitarian diplomacy to ensure unfettered humanitarian access.”
This article appeared in the September 7, 2021 issue of the Hatchet.