INDIANAPOLIS — Local churches are partnering together to support and welcome the Afghan refugees who are staying at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh. The effort to gather and deliver donations to the camp have been monumental over the past couple weeks.
The U-Haul trucks are off, as they headed to Camp Atterbury early Monday morning. Together, volunteers with St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and Second Presbyterian Church raised over $45,000, donated over 1,800 clothing kits for men and women, and hundreds of diapers and toys for children.
“We shared that with our congregation and people immediately started giving, serving, sorting, packing so that we could fill almost 5 trucks,” said Rev. Nicole Caldwell-Gross, a pastor with St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.
Both congregations brought hundreds of people from all generations to rally together to welcome our new neighbors.
“We had teenage girls helping us put the packets together,” said Rev. David Berry, a pastor with Second Presbyterian Church.
“We had someone as we were loading things into the truck come up and say to us, you don’t even know their names. Why are you doing this? said Rev. Caldwell-Gross. “And I think that as a community, as a community of faith but also as a larger community, we don’t need to know names. All we need to know is the need.”
The Afghan refugees have had to leave their home and everything they know behind.
“We know there are naysayers,” Caldwell-Gross said. “We know there are those who may feel hostile towards these new neighbors. But we think we are called to re-define what a neighbor really is. And it’s not based on proximity or geography, it’s really based on need and love.”
“So I hope these donations will bring comfort will come people will help people to feel cared about and to bring sort of a little bit of home back to back to them,” Berry added. “And settle that sense of being so displaced. I just hope they will feel at home.”
Second Presbyterian Church and St. Luke’s are working on a long-term plan to put together “refugee welcome teams.” This is for when the refugees leave Camp Atterbury to help them begin re-settling in Indiana.