Winter clothing drive, fundraiser seek to wrap refugees in warmth

As winter sets in, there is a dire need for everyone to be dressed warmly.

As winter sets in, there is a dire need for everyone to be dressed warmly.

Board members for the Whidbey Veterans Resource Center are organizing a winter clothing drive and fundraiser that benefit child refugees from Afghanistan, who often arrive in the U.S. with only the clothes on their backs.

Clyde Shavers, who is helping to organize the efforts, has a personal connection with the Middle East. He was there for more than two years while serving in the military and was involved in various humanitarian and disaster relief missions.

“These missions have really solidified my commitment to helping people,” he said.

His fiance currently serves in the military and is working on the resettlement process for Afghan refugees at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. All donations for the Whidbey Veterans Resource Center’s fundraiser and winter clothing drive will go to this particular military facility.

“As you can imagine, New Jersey is getting really cold right now,” Shavers said. “We can’t waste a single day. We have to move as fast as possible and bring the community together to help them.”

Community members can donate in one of three ways. Monetary donations can be made to a GoFundMe organized by Shavers and Maggie Johns that can be found by searching “Winter Clothing Drive for Afghan Refugees.” Donations of coats, jackets and shoes can be dropped off at the Whidbey Veterans Resource Center at the South Whidbey Community Center in Langley from 5-6 p.m. Mondays or 4:30-6:00 p.m. Tuesdays.

Additionally, people can call or text Shavers, who is an Oak Harbor resident, to arrange a pick-up time with him. His phone number is 425-394-6765.

“Because this is so important to me, I’m more than happy to pick up clothing around the island,” Shavers said.

The request is for children’s winter clothing currently, but Shavers said adult clothing is also welcome and can be donated to the cause.

“These Afghan refugees risked everything for our troops,” he said. “They served side-by-side every day for decades, for 20 years. I think it’s our responsibility, our duty, to now step up and help them out.”