ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis area is preparing to welcome a wave of refugees from Afghanistan as people flee the violence there.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said more than 1,000 people with Special Immigrant Visas could arrive in the area from the evacuation of Kabul and surrounding cities now in control of the Taliban.
Jones and Page said St. Louis City and St. Louis County are "ready, willing, and prepared" for the refugees.
International Institute of St. Louis is helping with the arrival of the refugees and called on the community to help.
The institute asked for new cleaning products, new personal hygiene items, linens, clean kitchen items, furniture and general family use items. They cannot pick up items, and furniture cannot be large or extremely heavy. All items must be free of animal hair.
The institute said it was overwhelmed by the community support. As of Friday, Sept. 3, the institute asked for people to pause donation drop offs until Sept. 9 while volunteers take time to organize and assess current donations. They are still accepting grocery cards and bus passes.
You can also help by donating money, spreading awareness, and volunteering your time.
Charles Mullenger is a former Army Captain and has been working with the International Institute to help raise funds.
In the first 36 hours, his GoFundMe has raised over $25,000.
The money is aimed at:
- Transportation support to help the institute get more than one multi-passenger van
- A boost in household goods and furniture
- A boost in staffing capacity
Beth Lippmann is a mom in south city, collecting items in her attic, which is almost filled.
Her goal was to get $100 from donations. She got $2,500.
If you'd like to reach out to Lippmann, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Jewish Community Center is collecting smaller items from the International Institute's wishlist. You can drop off items at both J locations from Monday, August 30 to Thursday, September 30.
Oasis International Ministries is gathering mattresses, frames, and mattress protectors for Afghan arrivals in St. Louis. You can fund a mattress here. You can see their full Amazon wish list here.
Local retailer Golden Gems posted on Instagram, they are gathering items for International Institute.
Restaurant Copper Pig is also collecting items for International Institute at their restaurant. Their hours are 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Yellowbelly donated $5 for each frozen cocktail sold over the August 28 weekend to the International Institute.
International Institute also named partner organizations that were helping refugees:
As of Monday, the CEO of the International Institute says their gymnasium is filling up and it has about 5,000 donated items.
They've raised $150,000 in two weeks.
Where to donate for Afghanistan refugees
The following nonprofits are raising money to help support Afghan refugees:
How to help Afghan refugees through local US charities
Get involved with an organization in your community. These groups may be looking for donations of essential items, hosts for refugees, or in-kind donations.
The following databases can help you find an organization in your area.
Share legal resources for anyone seeking refugee status
The International Refugee Assistance Project is a legal aid group that assists refugees and migrants resettling in the U.S. The group has an online tool available in five different languages that gives guidance on commonly asked questions about family reunification, visas and the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
Donate an Airbnb stay
Airbnb.org allows hosts to donate stays at their homes for "people in crisis." Guests are screened by Airbnb before arriving. If you don't have an Airbnb of your own, you can donate towards someone's stay.