In four months, the Refugee Services of Texas relocated five times the number of people it had the entire previous year.
During 2020, the agency resettled 108 clients. From October 2020 through early 2021, the organization relocated 575 clients.
“The good news is we received a lot of funding from the federal government and from state entities to hire so that we could do that,” Refugee Services of Texas Area Director Zoe Wilkerson, 29, said. “And then we had a lot of community support. I mean, all of these donations.”
In a room inside its office at 4200 South Freeway, a room is filled with canned goods, diapers, baby formula, car seats and hygienic products.
The donation room was created in October 2021 when an influx of Afghani refugees moved to Fort Worth. The Afghan Placement and Assistance Program was initiated in September 2021.
“Previously, we had all of our donations at a location off site and the rationale was because we usually had two weeks or more to prepare for an arrival,” Wilkerson said. “But, during the Afghan Placement and Assistance Program, we started getting arrival notices sometimes one or two days before they would show up.”
The donation storage in the office helped workers complete house set ups for clients as quickly as possible.
The Refugee Services of Texas office is hosting a car seat and stroller donation drive through Aug. 11.
“The number of Afghans that we’re receiving that are pregnant, or recently gave birth is very, very high. A lot of pregnant women were part of those who came over,” Wilkerson said. “So we’re just dealing with a lot more young, young children.”
Since October 2021, the office has had 357 clients who are minors — 308 of those children were under 12 years old.
Refugee Services of Texas workers transport clients to medical appointments, school and social security offices, so car seats are essential in transporting children safely, Wilkerson said.
Donors may drop off donations at the Refugee Services of Texas office, 4200 South Freeway, or can schedule a pick-up appointment here.
Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.