Images of thousands of Afghans fleeing the now Taliban-controlled Afghanistan were hard to watch and captured headlines for weeks. Now, as those same refugees are being resettled to our area, many are starting their new life in America with nothing.
Manizha Azizi, a Maryland resident, knows that feeling first hand. She came to America with her family as a refugee years ago and knows how difficult it can be, so she decided to pay it forward.
She started volunteering for local organizations and helping with donated items but she soon realized because she speaks Farsi, many of the refugees were contacting her directly for help.
"They would show me the inside of their apartment and there would only be a mat on the floor. They really needed help and felt comfortable with me because I have been where they are," she says.
Azizi worked for weeks to collect specific items for the refugee families. In fact, she had an entire trailer full and ready for delivery. But days before it was stolen for a parking lot in College Park, Maryland.
Azizi wasn’t deterred and, with the help of family and friends, began collecting more donations and distributing items needed by families. She’s been able to accomplish a lot but knows first-hand how great the need is.
"The winter months are coming so they will need coats and cold weather clothes. More refugees will be coming and so the need continues to grow," she says.
FOX 5's Pay It Forward crew spoke to Azizi in front of a storage facility she now has to rent following the loss of the trailer. Joel Bassam, President of Easterns Automotive Group told Azizi that the company would be donating $2,000 to help clear the wish list on Amazon.
If you would like to help Afghan refugees in our area through this effort, you can also help clear the list here.
If you know someone who should be featured on Pay It Forward, you can nominate them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In your message, be sure to include who they are and why they deserve to be recognized.