Helping Hands

How to Help Afghan Refugees Coming to Seattle

Ways to volunteer, donate, or organize aid for those arriving from Kabul.

By Malia Alexander November 3, 2021

As the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan, and the government's dramatic collapse unfurled in chaotic, upsetting scenes at the Kabul airport, many of us some 6,700 miles away in Seattle wondered how to help the lucky few who were able to get out. So far Seattle has welcomed dozens of refugees, and the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has established further resettlement services, assisting with everything from housing to legal services. But as the number of people in need begins to outweigh the available living spaces, local organizations are asking for help to support those affected by the Afghanistan crisis. Consider these events and organizations a living document of ways you can assist. Know of one we should include? Send your tips to [email protected]

Afghan American Cultural Association

The AACA’s goal is to help Afghan refugees integrate successfully into Seattle by initiating job searches, helping with school registration (including colleges), and acting as neighborhood guides. The organization is actively accepting donations to help strengthen these services.

Afghan Health Initiative

This nonprofit aims to address the needs of Afghan immigrants and refugees through advocacy and aid. Volunteer your time and home (if possible) to put together welcome kits or contact government officials.

American Muslim Empowerment Network

You’ve probably seen this sign posted in restaurant windows or in Governor Jay Inslee’s Twitter feed. That was thanks to MAPS-AMEN (Muslim Association of Puget Sound-American Muslim Empowerment Network). If you sign up for their email list, you'll get updates every two weeks with different resources, action alerts, and other ways to contribute through donation and volunteering.

Diocese of Olympia Refugee Resettlement Office

Resume help, welcome kits, and English classes are just a few of the services that the Refugee Resettlement Office offers. It's now accepting holiday donations for refugee children and are partnering with local preschools for a gift drive.

International Rescue Committee

The IRC has been providing support to those resettling from Afghanistan since 1988 through advocacy and volunteer efforts.

Jewish Family Service

Helping families in King County achieve “health and stability” since 1892, JFS aims to provide the same to Afghan refugees. The org has compiled a list of ways you can assist, from donating items from an Amazon wish list to sending an email to the Biden administration advocating for both a safe evacuation and welcoming of refugees. 

Kits for Peace

Kits for Peace puts together welcome and hygiene kits (soap, wipes, even laundry detergent) for those who are resettling here.

Lutheran Community Services Northwest

LCS Northwest has helped more than 40 Afghan allies since the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Volunteer opportunities are available, as is the option to provide housing and create “Refugee Starter Kits,” which provide arrivals with basic necessities. 

Muslim Community Resource Center

MCRC partners with various organizations (some mentioned here) to foster an inclusive environment for all people. For the Afghan refugee crisis, that has manifested in volunteer opportunities, donation sites, and other resettlement work.

Refugee Women's Alliance

Founded by Southeast Asian women and made mostly of immigrants or refugees themselves, ReWA assists Afghan refugees with housing, employment, and other services. 

SCM Medical Missions

SCM helps refugees with necessities like school supplies and clothing. But perhaps more unique, the organization has special outreach for LGBTQ+ refugees finding a safe place to settle and thrive.

Viets for Afghans

After the fall of Saigon, many Vietnamese refugees flocked to Seattle for asylum. Since then, the Vietnamese community here has rallied to help their Afghan peers. This non-profit organization actively participates in Sponsor Circle for Refugee Children, dedicated to finding Afghan children a home in the states. They are also receiving donations to help pay for a new project which helps refugees apply for humanitarian parole.

World Relief Seattle

World Relief Seattle was originally founded to help refugees from Southeast Asia. Since then, it has expanded its efforts to encompass immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees from all over the world.

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