Capital Area District Libraries, St. Vincent Catholic Charities partner to help Afghan refugees

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Donated goods sit in the collection area at the Haslett branch of the Capital Area District Libraries.

Nick Burt

Donated goods sit in the collection area at the Haslett branch of the Capital Area District Libraries. The library system has been collecting donated items in October to benefit the St. Vincent Catholic Charities refugee program.

St. Vincent Catholic Charities and the Capital Area District Libraries have teamed up to collect clothing and household items this month for the nearly 700 Afghan refugees expected to be relocated to the Lansing area.

The organizations are collecting clothing items such as shirts, pants and underwear and household items like brooms, toilet brushes, alarm clocks and other basic goods.

“We are always looking for fresh and timely opportunities (to help the community),” said Jolee Hamlin, senior associate director for the Capital Area District Libraries.

This is not the first time that St. Vincent and the district library have partnered.

“We partnered with St. Vincent in the summer with a backpack drive, which gave children backpacks full of school supplies,” Hamlin said.

The Capital Area District Libraries, through its community service program, CADL Cares, has previously partnered with other charities like Helping Women Period, which provides personal hygiene products to women; Volunteers of America, which provides personal care items for homeless veterans; and Libraries for Life, an organ donation registry event.

Heather Morgan donated some paper towels at the Foster library branch.

“I always like to help my community, especially those who are struggling like the refugees,” Morgan said. “They have been through so much just trying to get here that I feel that I should try to help the best that I can.”

Some days it will look like a church or a book club or a senior center was doing a drive to collect items and they end up doing a drop at the library, Hamlin said.

“It has been really successful,” Hamlin said.

Doing community drives like these is a return to normal for the library system, which stopped doing such efforts during the pandemic. There initially was worry about transmission of the coronavirus on physical items, so the library did not want donation items just sitting around in their facilities, Hamlin said.

“We weren’t doing drives. We tried to make sure we were still giving, so we really just ended up doing financial drives through the website,” Hamlin said.

Collection for Refugees runs through Oct. 31 at all the Capital Area District Libraries branches. St. Vincent Catholic Charities collects donations year-round at its donation facility at 2800 W. Willow St. in Lansing.

Hamlin said Capital Area District Libraries plans on a Toys for Tots event for the holiday season.

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