Afghan Refugee Volunteer Opportunities

A number of local Washington Metro Area (WMA) organizations are asking for your monetary donations, contributions, time and advocacy to assist newly arrived Afghan families who have fled to the U.S. from Afghanistan as Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, refugees, and asylum-seekers. I will update this list frequently as additional information becomes available. I know this has nothing to do with photography, but many people are looking for ways to help. 

As refugees settle in Fairfax County there, may be questions about how to access services to meet basic needs for housing, food, healthcare, and education. Click here for information that describes these services.

1) Donate $$

A gift of any size helps cover expenses/urgent needs. The fact of the matter is that organizations need funding in order to deliver the coordination of the services that the Afghan families will need. Organizations that are resettling refugees in the DMV area are:  

2) Donate Items 

Per LSS/NCA, gift cards to grocery stores are the #1 need right now. They will be given to families who are resettling, These allow families to have *choice* which is highly valued by someone who has experienced trauma. Please select from Giant, Lotte, Harris Tetter, Safeway and Aldi. Also needed: 

  • backpacks and school supplies.
  • SIM cards 
  • Laptops – NEW only 
  • Smartphones – NEW or refurbished only 
  • Brooms with dustpans, mops, ironing boards, hangers, and pillows – NEW only 
  • Welcome home gift boxes, NEW items only, see more information below. 

Drop-off places/times:  

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4911 Ox Rd, Fairfax, VA Aug 23 – Sept 11 (No Sundays), 11am – 6pm

Lutheran Church of the Covenant, 15008 Cloverdale Road, Dale City, VA 22193 Wednesdays 11am – 1pm Saturdays 11am – 2pm

Also, check out these Amazon Wish Lists for more suggestions: 

2) Act

Volunteers are needed: 

  • LSS/NCA has opportunities to provide transportation, set up apartments, assemble and collect welcome home gift boxes, click here to sign up. They have had 3400 people sign up so far so please have some patience as they work through the list. Same for ECDC and Catholic Charities.  
  • Catholic Charites has a variety of ways you can volunteer 
  • ECDC has two locations in the DMV area to volunteer, Arlington or Silver Spring. Click here to get your name on the list. 
  • World Central Kitchen has volunteer opportunities at Dulles Airport serving meals to incoming refugees.
  • ADAMS Center is looking for volunteers who speak Dari and Pashto via phone or onsite at a designated location – Please sign up on this link. You information may be shared with U.S. State Department, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense.

3) Advocate. Send a message to President Biden urging him to act now to protect at-risk Afghans. You can find the forms on the IRC website and on the LRIS website .

You can also: 

  • Click here: to find contact information for your Representatives 
  • Attend the upcoming ‘stop killing afghans’ protest is this Saturday, August 28th, the largest to date, coordinated in 34 cities worldwide. 
  • Text ‘CRISIS’ to 52886 to advocate for the Afghanistan cause and to get connected with the best ways to help Afghan allies and refugees

5) Educate yourself and others about the refugees and refugee resettlement here in the United States. We can all play a part in countering misinformation about refugees.

6) Build Welcome Boxes. LSS/NCA has put in place a program for Clubs, Organizations, Churches, or groups of friends to get together and build Welcome Boxes for the arriving families.  You can provide kitchen supplies, kitchen tableware, linens, and cleaning supplies. Please be mindful to provide items of solid quality that will last and also convey a warm welcome to the families. Click here for more details on their website.  It is highly recommend folks stick to the items requested instead of creating their own list. 

7) Consider Additional Services/Needs. Moving forward, one of the greatest needs is housing/rental assistance given the high cost of living in this region. If you know of housing leads please reach out to one of the organizations above.  Legal Services are also needed because many of the Afghans will be eventually be paroled into the US and will need help to navigate our legal system. If you know of any attorneys with immigration law experience please have those individuals fill out the Volunteer Forms to indicate availability. Finally, organizations are swamped right now and frankly need admin support. Again, if you know of anyone interested in helping in that regard please fill out the volunteer form and they will contact you.

Per their website, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) and Muslim Association of Virginia (MAV) representatives have visited a Virginia Afghan Evacuee Site and are in communications with state, local, and federal officials. The Host Facility Management, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Office of Diversity & New Americans, U.S. Army, U.S. State Department, Afghan American community volunteers (through the Department of State), Fairfax County Police, and American Red Cross are managing the logistics at the Evacuee Site very well. In addition, Virginia Governor’s Offfice of New Americans, Loudoun County Department of Health and Loudoun County Medical Reserve Corps have been helping at Dulles Airport.

People come here penniless but not cultureless. They bring us gifts. We can synthesize the best of our traditions with the best of theirs. We can teach and learn from each other to produce a better America.”

– Mary Pipher

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