Utah expects to welcome almost 1,000 refugees from Afghanistan this month.
Many organizations are providing help in relocating and providing for these families, including Salt Lake Community College. SLCC Staff Association members are collecting many essential items, including houseware and hygiene products.
“We are collecting donations for the Afghan refugees, including plates cups silverware, towels, blankets, shower curtains, umbrellas, strollers, car seats, grocery store gift cards for Smiths and Walmart,” said Gina Alfred, president of the SLCC Staff Association.
Donations can be dropped off at bins located outside the SLCC Student Association (SLCCSA) offices at Taylorsville, South City, and Jordan campuses.
Some students are tying fleece blankets to donate as well. SLCCSA President Lindsay Simons is helping support and spread the word.
“I think helping the refugees is important because SLCC is such a diverse community, and we should be welcoming and helpful to all. Everyone has the right to live, and helping refugees with basic needs is just common sense,” Simons said.
Alfred described the college’s ongoing efforts to support these new members of the community.
“At SLCC just in general, we are constantly looking at what can we do better for refugees and natives of Salt Lake City, Utah, or of those who have migrated from other states to make them belong,” Alfred said. “We are the most diverse institution in the valley of higher education. We are extremely inclusive so we will be welcoming them in and continue to do what we are already doing, having those conversations, looking at whatever inequities that may exist, and looking at what needs to be done in order to make education accessible to everyone.”
SLCC has many resources available for international students along with lots of support.
“We can’t turn our back on any of our students or those coming to Utah. Diversity is what makes our culture rich,” Simons said. “I know my SLCC experience has been so enriched by working and learning alongside international students and refugees. And sometimes donating blankets or coats feels like the only thing I can do to give back at this point in my life.”
Alfred emphasized that accepting is just as important as donating.
“Just meeting people where they are as far as just loving them where they are, being accepting of incoming new students from the Afghan community,” Alfred said. “Making sure we have resources hopefully available to help. And more importantly, being empathetic and sensitive to the needs the population will face.”
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