Ben Bankson, right, and Jon Morrison, left, display some of the items to go to Afghans being resettled in Las Cruces.
Courtesy photo

A project to help Afghan newcomers with what they need as they are resettled in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe has engaged Epiphany Episcopal Church in Socorro during October.

The project is spearheaded by Epiphany member Ben Bankson. “Our Judeo-Christian scriptures direct us to welcome the stranger,” he says.  “While we cannot help them directly since they’ll be in other cities, we are glad to provide the Afghans with requested supplies as they start their new lives in our state.  What we gather will go to the newcomers in Las Cruces.”

Epiphany member Jon Morrison, who is president of the Socorro Rotary Club, has embraced the project enthusiastically as have members of the club.  At least one served with the U.S. forces in Afghanistan and is glad to help those who were allies in the long war in their country.

The agency resettling the Afghans in New Mexico, Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, has requested supplies in four categories intended for setting up an apartment, their basic starting needs and their hygiene and babies.  Gift cards to any of eight designated merchants are also requested.

The refugee and asylee sub-offices of LFSRM in Albuquerque and Las Cruces are handling the Afghans placed with them by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service headquartered in Baltimore.  It is one of the nine agencies in the country that resettle refugees once they are cleared by the federal government for admission and then assigned to them.  They in turn assign the refugees to their affiliates.  LFSRM is an affiliate of LIRS.

The sub-offices are clustering the Afghans in Albuquerque, Las Cruces plus Santa Fe so that they do not feel isolated and are close at hand for the resettlement services they are eligible to receive toward the goal of self-sufficiency and integration in their communities.  Staff members in the sub-offices carry out their work with the help of volunteers. Those interested in being volunteers are required to take an online “Refugee 101” orientation session, fill out an application and then be certified.

Anyone in the wider Socorro community wanting to be part of Epiphany’s Afghan project should contact the church at [email protected].