TRAFALGAR, Ind. — Help is pouring in for hundreds of evacuees who fled Afghanistan and are now being housed temporarily at Camp Atterbury.
In Johnson County, several churches and neighborhoods are collecting donations to fill an urgent need for these families.
Inside Trafalgar Christian Church, volunteers have been busy over the past week, sorting and stacking boxes of donations. They've become a collection point for people wanting to help, who at first, didn't know how.
"It feels to me what we've done is provide a channel," explained Rev. Kyrmen Rea, pastor at Trafalgar Christian. "We've provided bullet point instructions for exactly what you can do to help."
"We've got baby wipes. We've got diapers. We got shampoo, soap, toys for children," said Union Christian Church's pastor, Rev. Mark Parkinson. "This church is a very outward reaching church and they jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it."
"People want to help. They want to be generous," Rea added. "No, I'm not surprised. You know, I put the call out because I knew people would respond."
Trafalgar Christian and nearby Union Christian Church teamed up with Team Rubicon, a non-profit that's coordinating donations for evacuees nationwide.
Much of what's been collected is essential for families who arrived with just the clothes on their backs. Everything donated must be new and there's a list of what evacuees need the most.
"I am so proud to be a Hoosier and proud that we're in this part of Johnson County and part of this effort to help these people who've lost everything to start anew," Parkinson said.
It's not just churches that are part of this effort.
Many neighbors in Greenwood and the Center Grove area have started grassroots collections and donation drives through word of mouth or on the Nextdoor app.
Laura O'Connor took two carloads of donations she's received at her doorstep, down to the Team Rubicon warehouse on Tuesday. She expected to send six more carloads later this week.
All donations at the central collection point are then sorted by Team Rubicon and driven to the base for families.
It's a massive effort to help new neighbors, who at least for now, and perhaps for even longer, are fellow Hoosiers.
"I hope that some of them will relocate here in this community and that we'll have opportunity to fellowship together," Parkinson said. "I've been practicing. 'Salam alaikum,' - that's Dari for 'peace be upon you.'"
"We don't expect a lot of the refugees are going to settle in Indiana, but I hope that we're offering a hospitality that would inspire people to say maybe this could be home," Rea said.
How you can help
- Team Rubicon
- Trafalgar Christian Church, 300 W. Pearl Street, Trafalgar, IN (Call Pastor Kyrmen Rea first at 317-408-9782)
- Union Christian Church, 1331 E. CR 300 South, Franklin, IN (Call Rev. Mark Parkinson first at 317-736-4077)