HUGE THANKS TO ALL, + update on our new neighbors from Afghanistan
Updated: Jan 15
Your response was truly overwhelming!
THANK YOU to all who took part in our December 18th collection drive for the first two Afghan families who were relocated to South County. Clothing is still needed for the Wickford family: parents in their 30s, two sons aged 11 and 4, a daughter aged 7. email firstname.lastname@example.org
Valuable background and context for this ongoing effort in the state of Rhode Island, and North Kingstown in particular, can be found in the Letter to the Editor below, which was submitted to our local newspapers. Its writer--(or at least his back, in a blue T-shirt)--is shown in the top photo accompanying this post, taken in one of the houses just a few days before its designated family was to move in. He is standing in the kitchen, putting together the donated highchair/carseat/bouncy chair--a complex process requiring careful attention to the instruction manual! In the foreground, those are brand new donated curtains lying on the secondhand living room sofa, waiting to be hung on donated curtain rods, one of which is leaning in the corner. That donated mirror that you see on the floor under the mantelpiece eventually found a home elsewhere in the house, as did all of the donated lamps standing on the donated coffee table. A great deal of cleaning obviously still needed to take place. Rest assured that our volunteers were up to the task. The second photo below shows the same mantelpiece on the eve of the new residents' arrival.
To the Editors:
In July 2021, the United States government began evacuating Afghan nationals from Afghanistan as part of a military operation called Operation Allies Refuge. What followed was one of the largest humanitarian airlifts in history. In late August, Operation Allies Welcome was initiated by the U.S. government to manage the resettlement of refugees within the United States. Over forty members of the Quonset-based 143rd Airlift Wing of the Rhode Island Air National Guard volunteered to support Operation Allies Welcome. They reported to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, and began to prepare for the arrival and welcoming of Afghan refugees. These officers and airmen were recently recognized by the Rhode Island Department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States for their service in support of this military operation.
At the invitation of Governor Daniel McKee, the first of 250 Afghan refugees began arriving in Rhode Island in August. On November 8th, Governor McKee announced the establishment of Afghan Relief RI (www.afghanreliefri.org), a coalition of seventeen governmental and non-governmental agencies working collectively to support the resettlement of Afghan refugees within Rhode Island. This organization is led by Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island (diiri.org), the only agency in Rhode Island that is authorized by the U.S. Department of State to resettle refugees arriving in the United States. Dorcas provides a full spectrum of support services to immigrants and refugees from all nations, not just Afghanistan. On December 18th, a local donation collection event was held for Afghan Relief RI at the Cold Spring Community Center in North Kingstown specifically for the purpose of collecting non-monetary items such as furniture, household goods, and gently used clothing. Thanks to the generosity of the local community, two 27' U-haul trucks completely full of donated items were taken to Dorcas to specifically support the resettlement of Afghan refugees. Additionally, volunteers working in support of Task Force Kingston and Task Force Wickford helped prepare two rental properties for the arrival of Afghan refugees being resettled in Washington County. Both of these homes are now inhabited by grateful Afghan families. Some people have asked why it was important to support this effort. As a veteran, I support this effort because these Afghan families are here on special immigration visas primarily because they directly supported the U.S. Government and military forces in Afghanistan during the past twenty years of war there. Many of them served side by side and in harm's way with American and coalition troops. As a result of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, these families had to flee for their lives. I believe that it is moral and just for the citizens of this country to welcome them here. I am thankful for the over 500 volunteers, donors, and sponsor organizations that stepped forward to support Afghan Relief RI efforts in Washington County. Let's make our new neighbors feel welcomed! Very respectfully,
Matthew Baldwin McCoy