Catholic Charities prepares for Afghan refugees

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa is set take in around 700 Afghan refugees who will call the state home. Catholic Charities of Des Moines is working hard to get ready for the influx of people. The Catholic Charities office is looking for donations of money and clothing as well as people to volunteer.

“Most of those funds would go to buying either furniture or household goods or personal supplies,” said Kelyn Anker of Catholic Charities. “We set up our apartments for any of our arrivals and we have a lot of wonderful donors and volunteers who help us with that, but sometimes we do need to purchase items, especially if we get the numbers we’re anticipating.”

Catholic Charities needs donations of gently used clothing, winter jackets, boots, gloves and hats. They are also looking for furniture. They need volunteers to help organize furniture donations, to pack and set up apartments, and provide transportation for refugees from the airport and to job interviews. 

The number of refugees given Iowa was 700, but it’s not certain exactly how many will come here. Those who do come will be settled around Iowa, including rural areas. Catholic Charities is considering having people sponsor families.

“That was definitely something that was done several years ago and it kind of transitioned away from that,” said Anker. “With these Afghan arrivals, we are kind of looking into the option of having churches, individuals, families … sponsor a family.”

People could help refugees get to know about living in Iowa.

“There is it a possibility that they will speak English as well. It’s kind of an unknown right now,” said Anker. “Most of the evacuees and arrivals had some sort of involvement in working with the U.S. government or with NGOs overseas.”

To find out more about how you can help, visit the Catholic Charities website.

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