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Kalamazoo County churches preparing to welcome Afghan refugees

Posted at 11:03 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 23:13:43-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — As Afghan refugees begin to arrive in the U.S., local churches say they're ready to step in and help them get settled.

As American as apple pie, baseball and hot dogs, couches, beds and tables fills the gyms of local Kalamazoo churches for Afghan refugees.

"We are expecting over a hundred," says Pastor Rachel Laughlin. "We don’t have an exact number yet.”

While they don't know how many families are coming, exactly, they're ready to show refugees a warm welcome to America.

“Anything to make a basic home run is what we’re looking for,” says Laughlin.

RELATED: Airbnb offering free housing to Afghan refugees

Drop-off sites are at Laughlin's place of worship: Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. “We are not out to convert anybody," she says. "We’re just here to serve, and help.”

Rev. Rachel Lonberg says her congregation at People's Church will keep giving. “Until we run out, basically,” she says.

Afghan Kzoo Factoid (1).png

It's kind of like a furniture store.

“When the families from Afghanistan arrive here, people from Samaritas will come in here and take what they need for their family,” Lonberg explains.

Except the shoppers won't just be looking for possessions like a new tablecloth. They'll be searching for a new community.

“They’re humans," says Laughlin. "They have dignity. It’s their home. They should have some choice in it.”

“So far, everyone’s been very supportive," Laughlin tells us. "We’re very proud to be part of this community, where people just love their neighbors and want to serve and want to help and want to make these allies and friends of ours feel welcome in our community.”

Church leaders say this is an interfaith operation. The local Islamic center is also serving, saying this is part of their faith, welcoming those going through hardship.

The items refugees need most consist of anything for a house. Make sure all items are working and not broken.

Most of all, they need places to stay, with as many as 150 people coming and an unknown number of families. Those people are going to need housing.

Click here to see Samaritas's donation options.

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