Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Blanket drive for Afghani refugees Saturday

A group of Dane County residents is helping to save the lives of Afghani refugees fleeing from violence. The Mennonite Central Committee is working with the Iranian Red Crescent Society, the Iranian counterpart to the American Red Cross, to organize a blanket drive for Afghani refugees.

An estimated two million refugees have already entered Iran, and thousands more are expected.

Not only do the refugees face political war, but they also face a new enemy: winter.

By the end of October, snow in Afghanistan can be substantial.

More times than not, refugees have to leave their homes on a moment’s notice, and those who are able to salvage some things find it all but impossible to carry a sufficient number of blankets from place to place.

Phyllis Hasbrouck, a Madison citizen, decided it was time to do something to help.

“Those poor people in Afghanistan have suffered so much,” Hasbrouck said. “The Taliban is horrendous to civilians, and now with winter coming, I don’t know what they’ll do.”

Hasbrouck got in touch with the MCC and they contacted the Iranian Crescent Society to find out what was needed: blankets.

Working together with Churchwomen United, a group of women from various denominations who work for social justice, Hasbrouck sent informative pamphlets around Madison.

Susan Becker, one of the organizers from Churchwomen United, helped contact local radio and television stations to publicize the drive.

“This really shows our compassion for people who are ? hoping to be in a better place,” Becker said. “Being in various refugee camps where they don’t have many resources makes it difficult to survive.”

The blanket collection will be held Saturday, Oct. 27, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Dr.

Monetary donations are also appreciated. Checks should be made out to the Mennonite Central Committee or sent to: Afghani Blanket Drive, 36 S. Mills St.

Thick twin blankets and comforters are preferred, but doubles are also accepted. New blankets are preferred, but old are accepted as long as they are free of stains, newly washed and in good condition.

All blankets collected Saturday will be trucked to the MCC’s processing center in Indiana, where they will be put into crates and shipped to Iran.

“The truck holds 1,000 blankets,” Hasbrouck said. “Other groups from Dodgeville, LaCrosse and Spring Green are also coming with blankets.”

Both Hasbrouck and Becker hope for a generous response.

“We have no idea how people will respond,” Becker said. “But we’re really hoping to get 1,000 blankets.”

Hasbrouck agrees.

“New blankets are really cheap,” Hasbrouck said. “At most department stores, you can find them for $10 to $15.”

Becker said it is important for everyone to put themselves in the place of the refugees.

“To have to leave your home on short notice and not being able to make life comfortable, living in tents in the cold … blankets are one thing we can do to give them comfort and let them know that the Americans care about them.”

For additional information on the drive, or on alternative drop-off sites, call Phyllis at (608) 251-6892 or Susan at (608) 231-1817.

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