This has definitely been a heavy week for many of us. The developments all over the world over the past couple of weeks have left me paralyzed and with a sense of hopelessness. I usually wake up, read the news and then listen to a podcast as I get breakfast ready. This week I have been dreading it. As I try to understand the situation in Afghanistan, support refugees and not to mention the victims of the latest earthquake in Haiti.
Out of words and wondering what to do, I started to research ways to help, actionable things that will at least have some impact on someone’s life. Over the past month, Afghan refugees have started to arrive to Fort Lee, just two hours from downtown DC. This means that a lot of them would be moving close to us. I was happy to find a long list of organizations that are getting ready to receive many of the refugee families in the area. There is a mix of organizations to donate money to, groups collecting good for new homes, groups needing volunteers to help them navigate schools, job opportunities and basically anything you can think of as they work on the resettlement of these families.
How can we help?
The official organizations working with the office of refugee and resettlement (ORR) from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services are a great source to begin with. This organizations work at the national level. They offer a wide range of services to refugees coming from different parts of the world. You can check their website for their latest updates on what they are in need for to respond to this latest crisis:
- Church World Service (CWS)
- Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)
- Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
- International Rescue Committee (IRC)
- US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
- World Relief Corporation (WR)
Help within our community
If you are looking for direct and local action you can check out the following organizations:
- Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, is taking all types of donations, from amazon wishlist, welcome home boxes as well as volunteers to collect furniture and other items to help this families get adjusted.
- KindWorks is collecting sewing machines for Afghan SIV Women.
- Good Neighbors of Capitol Hill is looking for volunteers to Help in furnishing Apartments for New Arrivals as well as storage space to keep its donations.
- World Relief Baltimore is signing up volunteers to help in their office.
- Bethany Christian Services is supporting refugees and you can sign up to volunteer in their offices in Virginia and Maryland. You can contact their local offices to find out what support services they are providing.
- Homes Not Borders is collecting items via amazon as well as registering new volunteers to support families.
More ways to help
There are also some restaurants and organization collecting items in the DMV:
- Lapin DC and The Berliner are collecting household items and gift cards in their locations.
- Orange Theory at Georgetown is setting up donation boxes at their location.
- No One Left Behind is an organization that advocates for families who apply to the Special Immigrant Visa. Your can donate to their efforts and learn more about their advocacy work.
The list of opportunities to help is extensive and the need will be ongoing. The work on helping this families, or long time allies, is just starting. We have a lot of work ahead of us. As we have done over the past years with other events, this is also a moment to reflect and talk about empathy and justice with our kids. We will have new neighbors, classmates and friends who are going to need all of our support and who need a warm welcoming.