Here's What Afghan Refugees Need When They Arrive In St. Louis

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Arrey Obenson, president of the International Institute, says St. Louis has the capacity to resettle at least 1,000 Afghans fleeing the Taliban. - DOYLE MURPHY
  • DOYLE MURPHY
  • Arrey Obenson, president of the International Institute, says St. Louis has the capacity to resettle at least 1,000 Afghans fleeing the Taliban.

Toothpaste. New socks. Laundry detergent. Simple items that could be included on a weekly grocery list are also things Afghan refugees do not have as they arrive in St. Louis. Many fled with a bag or nothing at all, leaving a country that’s been ravaged by war with hopes to start anew in St. Louis.

"We're ready to welcome Afghan citizens to the Gateway City with open arms and open hearts," St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said in a press conference last week.



With that in mind, St. Louisans have been eager to help our new neighbors, according to a post from the city of St. Louis. The International Institute St. Louis (3401 Arsenal Street) put together a list of what Afghan refugees will need most as they arrive.

The “basics” include personal items, kitchenware, cleaning products, general family use items, linens and furniture. Items in bold are needed most. For kitchenware, items that are needed the most are teapots, cereal bowls and rice cookers. New cleaning products needed the most are: laundry detergent, brooms and dustpans, mops and buckets, and working vacuums. Needed personal items are fairly simple — shampoo and soap, combs and new socks and underwear.

Furniture, a bit harder to supply, cannot be extremely large or have animal hair on it. Small living room chairs and car seats that aren’t expired and haven't been in accidents are most needed. The International Institute cannot pick up any donations, so anything you’re willing to give must be dropped off.



General family use items that are needed are space heaters, working alarm clocks, umbrellas and 2021 calendars.

The International Institute also listed in a Facebook post other organizations that will help support Afghan refugees. Casa de Salud, Welcome Neighbor STL, MICA Project, Bilingual International Assistant Services and Immigrant Home English Learning Program will all be assisting the refugees. Financial support, in-kind donations and hosting fundraisers are all listed as ideas that could potentially help these organizations support incoming Afghans.

Donations can be dropped off in the institute’s gymnasium beginning on August 31 and continuing on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. if you have two boxes or less. If you have a larger set of donations, you can call 314-773-9090 to schedule a drop off time.

People who can’t make the drop-offs can arrange a separate time with Wafa Osman through email or phone. According to the comments section of the International Institute post, the organization is also looking into a way for those who want to buy online and ship their donation, and will let donors know if that becomes possible.

Visit iistl.org/donate-items for more information.

Follow Jenna on Twitter at @writesjenna. Email the author at jenna@riverfronttimes.com
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