Afghan refugees: no one is a stranger

08/24/2021 5:06 pm

Updated Aug. 27, 2021
We will update this page as new information is received.

From Fort McCoy via Facebook
Aug. 27, 2021

There has been a generous outpouring of support from the local community asking for ways to help the vulnerable Afghans being welcomed and temporarily sheltered here at Fort McCoy. While the American Red Cross is aggressively working to meet the immediate needs of our growing population, there are many things the local community can do to help.

- The American Red Cross has more than 50 personnel on the ground here at Fort McCoy to provide critical care and help to our Afghan guests. Your financial gifts will help the American Red Cross continue to fund efforts to help the people affected by this crisis:

- Team Rubicon partnered with the American Red Cross to coordinate local volunteers and donors throughout the Wisconsin community to improve the well-being of our Afghan guests. More information about Team Rubicon and how to volunteer is available at

- Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, launched a campaign to provide assistance ( They are accepting donations at 3710 East Avenue South in La Crosse, and they have a gift registry set up through "" or by searching “AmazonSmile charities lists.” Amazon Smile allows donors to purchase needed items and have them shipped directly.

We will continue to update information on these and other volunteer and donation opportunities as they become available. Again, thank you for your continued efforts as we band together -- military and civilian -- to share the hope of a new start to those in need.

From Catholic Charities 
Aug. 26, 2021

Regarding volunteer opportunities with the Afghan Refugees at Fort McCoy: we are currently assessing needs and putting plans into place. At this time, we have been asked to send 15-20 volunteers each day to Fort McCoy to help with hospitality. That could mean staffing the worship tent, tea tent, or recreation tent. It could be acting as the concierge for a group of 20-25 families, helping to make sure they get access to resources such as medical attention, mealtimes, recreation, etc. It might mean helping with recreation or games for the children. All volunteers at Fort McCoy must have vaccination cards with them. Hours of operation will likely be 9 am-5 pm. 

We will also need volunteers to help us receive and sort donations at our Catholic Charities office in South La Crosse. You will not need proof of vaccination for this work and will mostly be outside. Hours of operation will be from 9 am-11 am and 1 pm-3 pm Monday-Friday. Also, if you have the ability to help take donations to Fort McCoy, please let us know that as well. (Enclosed trailers, vans, pickups.)  

Please provide us with some information regarding your availability. We will need to get security clearance, including background checks for all volunteers at the Fort. If you are able to commit to full days or multiple days that will make things easier.  

If you haven't filled out a background check, please do so here: Background Information Disclosure


Aug. 24, 2021

As Fort McCoy, 45 miles east of La Crosse, Wisconsin, receives Afghan refugees, Sister Laura Nettles and Pat Ruda, justice and peace coordinator for FSPA, are leading a portion of the La Crosse community response and helping coordinate volunteers and resources. We are collaborating with at least 53 community agencies to offer hospitality and welcome these refugees. Sister Laura and Viterbo University are hosting a series of community conversations aimed at providing support of many kinds to the Afghan refugees. At the group’s last meeting, five specific areas of need were identified:

1.     Welcome and hospitality
2.     Pro-active education for the greater La Crosse community
3.     Fundraising and financial support
4.     Language training and translation
5.     Assistance with refugee religious needs

Because we are working in a quickly developing situation, there is not very much concrete information available yet about material needs and financial donations. Fort McCoy leadership has provided us with a list of local and national organizations who are poised to assist the refugees.

o   U.S. Refugee Resettlement Agencies - 
o   Episcopal Migration Ministries - 
o   Catholic Charities (of La Crosse) - Afghanistan Refugee Assistance – Catholic Charities (
o   Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service -
o   Church World Service - 

In addition, the La Crosse Mosque (Othman Bin Affan) is collecting monetary donations for religious services (buying Qur’ans, prayer rugs, kufis, halal foods, etc.). As we become aware of additional needs, we will update the community.  If you have any questions or ideas please feel free to reach out to us.

We also ask you to keep these refugees and all Afghans in your prayers.

Prayer for Refugees
God, no one is stranger to you
And no one is ever far from your loving care.
In your kindness watch over refugees, 
Those separated from their loved ones,
Those who are lost
And those who have been exiled from their homes.
Bring them safely to the place where they long to be,
And help us always to show your kindness to all those in need.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,
Who too was a refugee 
Who traveled to another land
Searching for a home.

(Source:  Nouwen Network)

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