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The Welcome Kettle Project bringing Northeast Ohioans together to help Afghan refugees

“When we were made aware that the Afghan refugees were going to relocate and resettle in northeast Ohio, we knew that we had to do something,” says Lauri Pierce.

CLEVELAND — As thousands of refugees from Afghanistan continue to resettle across the US, more and more are coming to the Cleveland area, which has prompted one organization to take it upon themselves to help out.

“When we were made aware that the Afghan refugees were going to relocate and resettle in northeast Ohio, we knew that we had to do something,” says Lauri Pierce, executive director of Community Life Collaborative.

The organization, located in Bainbridge, has been hard at work with their new endeavor, the welcome kettle project. It’s a grassroots call to action to collect furniture, small appliances, cleaning and personal products and monetary donations. So far, they’ve helped about 100 afghan refugee families get resettled, in their time of need.

Pierce says, “Because this is such a shocking experience for a lot of them, there’s been some hesitancy. The ongoing support that has been shown by our community, I think is making them feel like they are not only our neighbors, but they are becoming friends.”

“I’m thrilled that we can at least take the stress out of that equation for these people, that they come to a house and it’s set up,” says community life collaborative volunteer coordinator, Brad Walsh. “They have food, they have beds, toys for their children and it makes the transition a little bit easier.”

Global Cleveland says northeast Ohio was supposed to get about 400 refugees, but have already had more than 500 people placed here with no signs of slowing down.

“They love their homeland and would prefer to live in their homeland, but unfortunately because of the Taliban it’s not a safe place,” says Walsh.

Those relocating here were granted visas after they aided the US during our time in Afghanistan, putting a target on their backs. Pierce says step two for the project will be to work with employment organizations to assist these new northeast Ohioans with job placement.

“We never imagined that this program would be as big as it is,” says Pierce. “The support from the community and beyond has just been amazing.”

The Welcome Kettle Project accepts donations at the Family Life Center, located at 16349 Chillicothe Road in Bainbridge, at the following times: 

  • Tuesdays, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. (1/4, 1/11, 1/18, 1/25)
  • Thursdays, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. (1/6, 1/13, 1/20, 1/27)
  • Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (1/8, 1/15, 1/22, 1/29)

For guidelines on what donations the group is accepting, click HERE

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Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a previously published story.