65 Afghan refugees coming to Minnesota, groups collecting donations

Arrive Ministries' storeroom holds donations that will help Afghan refugees as they come to Minnesota. (FOX 9)

Minnesota agencies and community groups are preparing to help recent Afghan evacuees who will soon call Minnesota home.

Arrive Ministries in Richfield has been inundated with donations like housewares, toiletries and winter boots.

"We are on tap literally when they arrive at the airport," said Michael Bergman, executive director of Arrive Ministries. "We are there when the family comes down the escalator. We are their first point of welcome to Minnesota, welcome to the United States."

The Minnesota Department of Human Services says 65 refugees from Afghanistan - who are currently being processed at army bases across the country like Fort McCoy near Tomah, Wisconsin - are expected to come to Minnesota by the end of September. About half are already in Minnesota. The group will help up to 35 of them find everything from housing and clothing to health insurance and employment - all with as little as 24 hours’ notice.

"I'm here to be your connection to Minnesota, to our culture, and to walk alongside you as you begin to experience and adjust to this new life," said Bergman.

"The diaspora is scrambling to prepare to take care of these folks as they arrive," Nasreen Sajady, rally organizer.

In the meantime, members of the local Afghan community are organizing a rally and vigil on Saturday near Loring Park to raise awareness about what is happening back in Afghanistan.

"My heart is so low right now," said Sajady. "I can't even imagine how much my heart can sink. I don't think it can sink any further."

They are also collecting necessities for refugees who arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They are prepared to help the new arrivals with anything else they need to transition to their new lives in Minnesota.

"Minnesotans have helped the Hmong community, they've helped the Somali community, they've helped Palestinians," said Sajady. "So my hope is they show up with open arms."