Though the request for backpacks, pencils and paper wasn’t expected, it came at a time that made perfect sense.
Numerous children from Afghan refugees families were preparing for a return to school and Jen Hund decided that the Afghan Refugee Resource Center could meet the demand for school supplies.
Hund serves as refugee services coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Oklahoma. She said she knew the refugee resource center could supply the needed school supplies because of the numerous local houses of worship and other organizations which have stepped up to help the Afghans resettling in the Oklahoma City metro area.
With help from these groups, in less than a week the center provided 188 Afghan students in the Putnam City School District with new backpacks filled with school supplies. Hund said those who participated in the back-to-school effort included Temple B’nai Israel; All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Miami, Oklahoma; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-Deer Creek Ward; Grace Episcopal Church in Yukon; All Souls’ Episcopal Church; and the Islamic Circle of North America Shifa Clinic of Oklahoma City.
Hund it was the kind of collaborative effort that has made the Afghan Refugee Resource Center a success. CAIR-OK opened the center in late April, through a partnership with St. John Episcopal School, 5401 N Brookline, where the center is housed.
“It was pretty incredible,” she said. “In order to do this, we reached out to partners and we had members of the Muslim community, Jewish community, Christian community from all across the spectrum in different parts of the state.”
Hund said volunteers from CAIR-OK and the Tinker Impact from Tinker Air Force Base spent 78 hours picking up supplies, assembling them and delivering filled backpacks to staff and volunteers at The Spero Project for distribution.
Resource center filling needs
Funding for the Resource Center was provided by the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA).
The center is open from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. Hund said sponsors of Afghan families, case managers and other individuals and teams that support Afghan families may visit the center during its scheduled hours by scheduling an appointment with her.
Once there, Afghan families may select clothing, including cultural clothing donated by local Muslim families; hygiene items and other household needs. Hund said the center typically serves two families a day, averaging between 10 and 15 families a month.
“We’re giving out lots and lots of clothing that is very culturally familiar to folks, especially the clothes that we’re getting that are from the Pakistani and Indian American communities here in Oklahoma,” Hund said. “They’re providing clothing that you’re not going to find anywhere else, like at a secondhand shop, or a Target or a Walmart or anything like that, so we’re really lucky to be able to offer those things.”
For information or to schedule an appointment at the resource center, email Hund at jHund@cair.com.