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JustServe Volunteers in Virginia Recognized for Helping Afghan Refugees

JustServe volunteers unload supplies for Afghan refugees in Northern Virginia in October 2021. Photo by Emma Young, courtesy of JustServe.All rights reserved.

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By Mary Richards, Church News

With the prime time of the year for online shopping in full swing, imagine getting 200 boxes on your doorstep every hour.

That’s what was happening to an organization in Northern Virginia as they gathered supplies for Afghan refugees. And JustServe specialists and volunteers stepped up to help in a big way.

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area has an operational infrastructure that was set up to serve 500 refugees or displaced people each year. Yet they served around 800 this fall.

And they saw a record 5,300 interest forms from people interested in helping their new neighbors. The highest number of volunteers they received in recent years was 350.

As the in-kind donations began arriving in record numbers, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area needed more help.

“We called JustServe, an organization which mobilizes professional volunteers, who came to the rescue, establishing systems for in-kind donation management and storage,” CEO Kristyn Peck wrote online.

“Now, when our clients come to visit, they are able to ‘shop’ our donations — picking out new vacuums, and pots and pans, and strollers, and car seats, and toiletries and other necessary household supplies for their first homes in the United States,” Peck wrote.

The JustServe specialists came from the McLean and Annandale Virginia Stakes. And the Church also donated a huge amount of storage space for all those supplies.

As an appreciation, Lutheran Social Services featured JustServe as its Hero of the Month for October.

“Without JustServe sending a team of professional volunteers to our offices seven hours a day, six days a week, and [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] providing 100,000 square feet of donated storage space, we would not have been able to accept the level of donations we’ve received, which allow Afghan Allies who are arriving with nothing but the clothes on their back the items they need to set up their new homes,” Peck said in posts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and on their blog.

She said August and September felt like a sprint, but their organization has a marathon ahead of them. They expect to serve at least 2,000 more Afghans in the coming months, with service lasting beyond the initial three-month resettlement period.

Copyright 2021 Deseret News Publishing Company

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