Two Forsyth County families are rallying the community to donate essential items for Afghan refugees coming into the state in the coming weeks.
Deborah Langen and Amy Dawkins said they immediately called each other after they saw the news of the Taliban taking over in Afghanistan during the U.S. withdrawal. They read headlines about families being displaced and felt they needed to help in some way.
“Seeing that happen and knowing that these are families like us, when we think about that happening to our family and how devastating it would be, it just inspired us to take action,” Dawkins said.
According to the International Rescue Committee, more than 1,000 refugees from Afghanistan are expected to settle in Georgia.
They reached out to Catholic Charities Atlanta, an organization that has been helping refugee families in the metro Atlanta area since the 1960s, to find out what families might need as they enter the state and partner with them to begin an item drive in Forsyth County.
Langen said they and their families have already started receiving donations from friends and community members, and they plan to continue to collect donations through Friday, Oct. 15. Anyone interested in donating can drop off items at Lee Dawkins American Family Insurance at 418 Pirkle Ferry Road in Cumming.
Catholic Charities Atlanta is looking for new item donations only.
Based on a recommendation from Catholic Charities Atlanta, they are currently asking for:
● Tea sets (kettle and cups);
● Tea (bags or loose leaf);
● Fleece blankets (queen size);
● Maps of Atlanta;
● Journal/planner and pens;
● Welcome mats;
● Reusable shopping bags;
● Flashlights with extra batteries;
● MARTA cards;
● Grocery gift cards;
● Dried apricots;
● Spices for Afghani cuisine (cinnamon, saffron, cumin, nutmeg, green cardamom);
Langen and Dawkins said they have received overwhelming support from community members so far, and several businesses and organizations have offered help.
The two partnered with Little Mill Middle School’s Live to Give club, and students created posters asking their teachers and families to donate items. They collected donations from Sept. 27 through Oct. 1 to add to the drive.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also ran an item collection while FiA Alpha and F3, two gyms in the area, have offered support and encouraged others to donate.
Dawkins said they are both happy to see so much support for the drive and for the incoming refugees, many of whom assisted American soldiers during the war.
“They really do depend on people giving, and I don’t think we can give too much,” Dawkins said.