Thursday, December 2, 2021

Bake sale, volunteers benefit refugees

By Clairissa Cooper

Four-year-old Wesley held the homemade sign as high as he could manage. He and his father stood at the Flower Mound street corner hoping to entice the neighborhood to peruse their modest bake sale.

But this wasn’t any ordinary bake sale. What started as a simple idea, ended up impacting the life of a stranger.

Multiple families from The Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints combined efforts to host a bake sale benefiting Afghan refugees. Hundreds of refugees are arriving in the Metroplex weekly with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Organizations like the Refugee Services of Texas (RST) are asking volunteers to set up apartments that will house these Afghan refugees and serve as their first home in the U.S.

Corrine Nelson, who volunteers through the Fort Worth branch of RST, sent an email to her Church congregation asking for donations of household goods, including furniture. Everything from hygiene items to kitchen items and beds is needed – all basic necessities.

Lisa Hall saw the signup and wanted to help.

“I may not be able to buy a couch, but I can bake a few treats and spend a few hours pulling a bake sale together and selling them,” said Hall of Flower Mound.

Lisa, her husband Adam, and their six children publicized and organized the bake sale, which raised $1,600. The money was used to purchase a much-needed bunk bed for one of the apartments.

“They are really desperate for bunk beds,” said Hall.

Nelson was asked to set up apartments for seven refugee families. The families are all people who are fleeing the dangerous and volatile situation in Afghanistan and are eligible for humanitarian parole.

Once the refugees arrive, RST volunteers pick them up from the airport, provide a meal and transportation to their apartment and spend the next 60 days as a mentor to assist the family with the overwhelming task of adjusting to a new country, language, and culture.

“Many of the men speak a little English, but most of the women and children speak little-to-none,” said Nelson. “We bring translators and help them with filling paperwork to get a job. They need help from us before they can help themselves.”

According to their website, RST has been working around the clock to resettle the unprecedented number of arrivals and their families. Organizations around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex divide the influx of families to keep up with the demand, including RST, Catholic Charities, International Rescue Committee, and more.

“The refugees– they come here with nothing. They literally have nothing. They so greatly need the help,” said Nelson. “I can only imagine the horror they’ve had to live in. I try to imagine myself in that position and it would be terrifying. I love doing this because I can provide a little bit of help and give aid to someone who truly needs it.”

The need for volunteers and ancillary services is great. To assist in the Afghan refugee resettlement efforts, visit justserve.org/dfwrelief, which connects volunteers with relief efforts in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.

CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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