If you would like to help the Afghan refugees who are being processed for resettlement at Fort McCoy, here's the latest: Updated October 7.
The city of La Crosse will consider a resolution of welcome and support at its October 14 meeting. A resolution sponsor, Council Member Rebecca Schwarz, reported that it has passed the committees, though one community member spoke against it at the Judiciary and Advisory committee. Council Member Mackenzie Mindel, the other sponsor, responded to those concerns.
Consider emailing the council and mayor to let them know you support such a resolution and encouraging its passage (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com).
On October 19, join an online discussion about, "Getting to know our new Afghan neighbors." The live stream link can be found at: www.viterbo.edu/afghansupport
Donations for visitors housed at Fort McCoy are still being accepted. Thirteen thousand people who left their lives and homes behind with nothing but the clothes on their backs have many needs. Current and continuing needs include appropriate everyday clothing, winter outerwear, underwear, and shoes.
Please consider using one of the online portals to ensure your donation meets the most urgent needs. Or use the lists on these sites and shop on other sites. (For example, Fruit of the Loom (fruit.com) has men's sweatshirts on clearance for $5 to $6.50 each.)
If you shop online, please set the shipping address to Team Rubicon Resettlement,
For more information about other donating and helping opportunities, please see the Catholic Charities Afghanistan Refugee Assistance page.
SEPTEMBER 7: Fort McCoy currently is near capacity: 13,000 individuals. They are living in barracks style housing, with sheets and blankets used to mask off family areas. Most individuals have been traveling since before they left Afghanistan, most under harrowing conditions. They came with very little - little or no luggage; only the clothes on their backs. Many are still wearing those same clothes. Fort McCoy may be their third or fourth stop in their journey. It is probable most will be resettled outside of our area, but that process is taking a long time due, in part, to the Trump administration's gutting of the services. Probably, visitors will be at the facility into the winter.
First need - our compassion, love, and support. Support may be given in the form of donations (see below) and also in the form of pushing back against rumors, lies, and falsehoods spreading on social and, sadly, in local media. Please push back. Please do not inadvertently amplify the lies! Use the "truth sandwich:" Start with THE TRUTH. Mention (but DO NOT REPEAT) the lie. End with the truth. Here's how you can help keep our space safe for refugees:
- Contact your elected officials (but not those who are not in your city/towm) - city council and county board - and ask them to back a resolution that offers welcome, support, and assistance to refugees. Resolutions are being introduced in Viroqua, City of La Crosse, La Crosse County.
- Write a letter to the editor (email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the online form) in support of the refugees. For the La Crosse Tribune, keep your letter to 250 words or less (better for you to edit than for them to edit)
- If you hear or read something in local media, immediately call or email them and push back. You don't need to be an expert in Afghan history and culture, but we all need to make the top priority being welcoming and supportive of our fellow humans.
- Be proactive in your community. Let others know how they can help and volunteer. Point them to factual information and articles.
You may also donate to organizations that are working to help resettle, rescue, and otherwise support people fleeing Afghanistan
- Soiled, torn, dirty clothing. Volunteers do not have time to sort, mend, and clean things
- Religious items or clothing or other items that have religious branding, from clothes to coloring books. NO PROSELYTIZING!
- Any branded items, including Packers, Christmas, Halloween, Nike, Gap, Superman, etc.
- Inappropriate clothing - low cut tops, tight jeans, short shorts, etc.
- Junk - this is not your opportunity to clean out the basement!
- New, unbranded conservative underwear for children and adults
- New, unbranded socks for children and adults
- New shoes - flats, slip ons
- Unbranded long sleeve crew neck tops, sweat shirts and pants in perfect condition
- Personal hygiene supplies - toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, combs and brushes, bars of soap (not liquid), deodorant, towels, shower shoes, menstrual pads (not tampons)
- Fabric - solid colors or geometric, floral, circular, patterns (NO CHARACTERS, CARTOONS, SPORTS FIGURES, ETC) jeweled or muted (sewing machines are very popular and women are making clothes for their families) - heavier cotton, light wool, colors = good
- See a longer list of items needed at the Catholic Charities site
- Must pass a background check to get a pass
- Must be able to commit to at least one FULL DAY per week (M-Sat)
- Must be able to be active and engaged for long periods of time
- Should be able to handle some stress, lots of action, several things happening at once
For those individuals looking to assist with language interpretation, please volunteer your time by downloading the Tarjimly App on your phone. You can create an account and translate for people on Fort McCoy and other OAW facilities. For more information, check out https://www.tarjimly.org.
For more information on ways to help, or to make donations, visit:
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse Wisconsin has launched a
local campaign to provide Afghanistan refuge assistance https://cclse.org/afghanistan-refugee-assistance.
Team Rubicon: https://teamrubiconusa.org
Goodwill Industries International: https://www.goodwill.org/
American Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/local/wisconsin.html
International Rescue Committee: https://www.rescue.org/
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: https://www.usccb.org/
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse: https://cclse.org/
Currently, Team Rubicon is the lead organization working with donations. Anyone interested in supporting Team Rubicon, should email: email@example.com to request their most recent list of new item needs.