CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)– A neighborhood has started an initiative to distribute donations to Afghan refugees in need. This past week residents in the Harper’s Mill neighborhood have been taking several trips back and forth to Fort Pickett, distributing thousands of items.
Refugees, including many people who worked for the U.S. military, were evacuated from Afghanistan as the U.S. withdrew and the Taliban took over. Now they are temporarily staying at U.S. military bases to work on Special Immigrant Visa paperwork and plan where they’re head next. Fort Pickett in Blackstone is one of three bases in Virginia housing Afghan refugees.
Large amounts of donations for the evacuees are currently sitting in a Chesterfield County neighborhood clubhouse.
Sean Timper is a Chesterfield County resident who currently works at Fort Pickett. According to Timper, the refugees are in great need. Some are arriving with little to no luggage and sometimes they only have the clothes on their back.
Timper told 8News, they need help.
“We were watching the whole situation in Kabul, and we wanted to find a way to get involved,” Timper said. “When we found out that we were getting refugees so close to home, my wife and I just said we have to do something.”
This is a full circle moment for Timper. He said that he previously worked and fought in the army in Afghanistan in the early 2000’s.
“Some of the folks that we’ve had a chance to work with and meet, and learn their stories, it’s been pretty overwhelming and pretty emotional,” Timper said.
After posting on Facebook exactly a week ago to ask for supplies, Timper said his neighbors began dropping off items at his home and at the Chapel church in Midlothian.
Laura Bilbrey saw the post online and immediately asked how she could help.
“When I knew people were here within reach, there was something you could do and you could finally feel like even though this horrible situation is going on, I can help,” said Bilbrey. “By Friday, stuff was accumulating and by Saturday morning, we knew we needed to get on base because we had run out of room.”
Volunteers began sorting and packing items every day this week. The neighborhood has collected basic necessities like clothes, diapers and baby formula. On Monday, the group had filled three full trailers, three full SUV’s, two full mini-vans and three pickup trucks worth of items. Timper and his neighbors took their eighth trailer full of donations to Fort Pickett to distribute this afternoon.
“They are now a part of our community,” Bilbrey said. “They’re not visitors. They’re people who live in this country now, so it’s been nice to see that our neighborhood knows when to step up,”
The neighborhood plans to switch over to monetary donations, so far they have collected thousands of dollars.