Mormon charity helps hundreds of Afghan refugees relocate in suburban DC

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has helped more than 400 Afghan refugees relocate to a suburb of the district as part of a charity drive, the Washington Times learned Monday.

Organizer Andrea Cook said Monday that 10 Latter-day Saint congregations in the district, Maryland and Virginia, have requested clothes and carpets to be distributed to refugee families in a Hyattsville, Maryland ward.

“Refugees are here; They are our neighbors and we can help them, ”Ms. Cook said, adding that the communities mobilized when they saw“ those plane loads of Afghans trying to get out ”when the Taliban invaded the country in August.

Ms. Cook, a chemistry professor at Trinity Washington University, said the refugees were particularly eager to find house rugs.

“It’s pretty random, but every family we’ve met wants carpets on every square inch of their apartment floors,” said Ms. Cook, 34.

Other given items include bicycles, diapers, wet wipes, shoes, toys, socks, and underwear.

Mormon churches in other parts of the US also sent bulk donations of some items from an Amazon wish list to Whitney Day, a Hyattsville volunteer who said she was “grateful” to be part of the effort.

“It was heartwarming to see the generosity of the locals helping strangers in need. Both the giver and the recipient walked away happily. Nobody felt robbed and nobody felt entitled, ”said Ms. Day.

According to the organizers of the action, several local mosques even helped to collect traditional women’s clothing such as headscarves.

“We were very happy that the people were helped. We have plans to do something similar next year, but we all have jobs and kids so we need some time to relax, ”said Ms. said cook.

Organizers said three resettlement agencies – the Ethiopian Community Development Council, the International Rescue Committee, and the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area – gave Mormon communities addresses for three residential properties in the Hyattsville area that refugees have settled in.

The communities then organized voluntary carpooling to pick up the refugees, many of whom are not licensed to drive in the United States, to the distribution point.

“Three apartment complexes in the Hyattsville area are refugee-friendly and the majority of Afghan refugees in the DMV have been resettled there,” Cook said.

An Ethiopian Community Development Center official, asked to confirm reports that the Biden government directed resettlement agencies to expect a new influx of Afghan probation officers without SIVs in the next 16 months, declined to comment on Monday.

But Ms. Cook, who began organizing Latter-day Saint charities for Syrian refugees five years ago, said “tens of thousands” of Afghans are still being dispatched to military bases.

This means that the refugee campaign “Neighbors Helping Neighbors Drive” may not have to wait long before mobilizing again.

“Everyone is just totally overwhelmed at the moment because we’ve seen so many refugees,” she said.

The first wave of U.S. military translators who have come on special immigrant visas have already settled permanently in the region and have no plans to ever return to Afghanistan, she added.

“They’re trying to get jobs and make a living right now,” said Ms. Cook.

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