Helping Refugees This Holiday Season

Monday December 20, 2021

By: Danielle Shulkin (RPCV Panama ‘19-’20)

As we move deeper into the holiday season, many people have already or are soon to exchange gifts with loved ones, both near and far. For many, this will be the first time celebrating a special occasion together with family since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. For others, however, this may be the first holiday season that they are spending hundreds of miles away from their homes, families, and celebrations. After the Taliban take-over in Afghanistan earlier this year, roughly 120,000 people were evacuated from the Middle Eastern country, ravaged by Western foreign policy and local militant groups, with thousands of them arriving in states across the U.S. in late summer. Most of these new arrivals have come to their new homes with nothing other than what they could carry, and are now tasked with creating lives for themselves and their children from scratch, on top of the challenges of finding careers, learning new languages, and developing a community in a different cultural context.

Now, many Americans are looking for ways they can continue to support Afghan refugees and others who may be experiencing their first American winter and holiday season. In this season of giving, consider supporting one of the following initiatives to welcome these people to their new homes and help them create a new life in a foreign land.

  • IRC Salt Lake City: Donate storage space, gift cards, or choose items from their Amazon wishlist.
  • Jewish Family and Community Services, East Bay, California: JFCS, in coordination with the Northern California RPCV affiliate group, has a robust Amazon wish list with items for individuals and families at a variety of price points.
  • Jewish Vocational Services, Kansas City: Donate furniture, host a donation drive, or buy items from a variety of Amazon wishlists, including winter clothes and school supplies, for refugees in the greater Kansas City area.
  • Catholic Community Services of Utah: Buy specific gifts for refugee families, including storage containers, shower curtains, towels, bedding, cribs, and more.
  • CARE, Emergency Essentials Around the World: Support internally displaced people, as well as refugees still living in emergency contexts, by donating a CARE package consisting of things like a 6 month emergency supply of water, 1 month of emergency food, or mother & newborn support.
  • Action Foundation & Art for Refugees, UK: Buy last minute Christmas cards, New Years cards, or other handmade art and the profits will go toward organizations supporting refugees in the U.K.
  • Miry’s List: Browse through profiles of various families and choose gifts from registries at Target, or donate a gift card so that families may choose the items that they most need for themselves.

There are a myriad of ways in which to support refugees around the world. While many people prefer to search for hands-on ways in which to do this work, the reality is that oftentimes direct donations are what is truly needed most. We hope you’ll join us by buying a gift for a refugee and sharing this opportunity with your family and friends. ‘Tis the season for giving!

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