x
Breaking News
More () »

'It's a new life': Afghan refugees mark first Thanksgiving in St. Louis

Part of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, Lisa Grozdanic and her team have been feeding families' stomachs and spirits for the past nine days.
Credit: Sara Machi

ST. LOUIS — This year, Thanksgiving dinner comes from the back of this delivery truck with a crew quickly and efficiently unloading dozens of meals for Afghans who came to St. Louis with very little but their families and dreams for their future.

"It's part of our faith to take care of our neighbors. Take care of those in need. And they are definitely in need," House of Goods' Lisa Grozdanic said.

Part of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, Grozdanic, and her team have been feeding families stomachs and spirits for the past nine days.

But this meal has special significance with Grozdanic noting, "Today's our day of giving, and it's a great feeling."

The Afghans are staying in three area hotels while the International Institute tries to arrange more permanent housing. Grozdanic says her team has bonded with the new residents, making sure they have what they need right now, as they start a new life in the US.

"They will remember this day for the rest of their lives. That we are here playing with them, interacting with them, giving them things," she said.

Sayid Safiulla agrees.

"For me maybe it's OK, no problem. But for other Afghans, it's a new life. A really new life," refugee Safiulla said. 

Safiulla worked in the US Embassy in Kabul and says acclimating to a new city, a new language, new traditions is difficult, but one made sweeter with the support they've gotten from strangers.

RELATED: Here's how you can help the biggest resettlement of Afghan refugees in St. Louis since 2005

As everyone picks up food for dinner with their families, Grozdanic's team gets ready to make their next stop, feeding more families on this first holiday in their new homes.

"They are so grateful and so thankful for the community here in St. Louis that has opened up and has just stepped in where it's definitely needed," she said.

Grozdanic estimates they're serving dinners to about 160 people. The meals were provided by Salam Market, which is usually closed on Thanksgiving.

To help, contact House of Goods.