How one can assist Afghan refugees arriving in Colorado

Coloradans who want to help refugees after the collapse of the Afghan government have several options to help, with material goods, money or their time.

Between 2-3% of Afghan refugees entering the US will settle in Colorado, Jennifer Wilson, executive director of the Denver International Rescue Committee, told the Denver Post.

Around 60 or 70 Afghan refugees have come to Colorado so far this summer, but many more could arrive depending on how things develop, Wilson said.

Below is a list of suggestions from local organizations dedicated to helping refugees.

Check with organizations that are knowledgeable

Colorado has several organizations that help refugees on their way into our state. Some are the Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Greeley; the African Community Center; and the International Rescue Committee. Check with local organizations in your area for the latest needs and ways in which you can help the refugee community. If giving time to these organizations does not fit your schedule, most have the option to donate money.

Make a donation package

To make it easier to donate, several organizations have created lists of things that will help refugees settle into their new homes. Items include housewares, baby supplies, toiletries, bike safety, and donations for job seekers. The International Rescue Committee has donation lists on their website with instructions on how to pack and plan a handover time. Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains has donation lists for a checklist for apartment bins, baby baskets, welcome baskets, and hygiene baskets that are also listed on their website for their Denver location.

Hire a refugee

Offering a job to a refugee is one of the most basic ways to help someone start their life again, according to the Denver Chapter of the International Rescue Committee. The committee helps refugees prepare for Colorado labor markets. If your company is hiring, notify the Denver International Rescue Committee by emailing [email protected]

Tutor youth

Coloradans can volunteer for the Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains home schooling program, which brings participants together with a high school aged refugee. Tutors will likely help their students with basic reading and subject-matter skills, but assignments can vary based on the child’s needs. The volunteers have to work one hour per week for the duration of the semester. Experience working with children or in education is desirable, but not a requirement. A background check is performed. To apply, go to the Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains website and click on the Refugee and Asylum Seeker Volunteer Program under the Get Involved tab.

Deliver food

The International Rescue Committee is looking for volunteers to collect grocery cartons from a Metro Caring or Project Worthmore location and deliver food to up to five families in the Denver Metro area. The committee estimates the time required to be two to three hours per week. For more information and other volunteer opportunities, see the International Rescue Committee website.

Be a friend

The African Community Center of Denver, which serves more than 1,500 refugees, asylum seekers, and other immigrants annually, offers a program where volunteers work with a refugee or refugee family to be someone they look to for at least six months can in this country. Volunteers can help their new friends learn conversational English, take trips to familiarize them with their new surroundings, and be a support system when needed. More information is available at acc-den.org/volunteer.

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