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Charlotte-area Afghan refugees receive school supplies ahead of the school year

The refugees, now in East Charlotte, escaped Afghanistan as U.S. Troops withdrew and the Taliban took over the country.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s been less than a year since Afghan refugees and their children got settled in areas around Charlotte. 

As the parents navigate a new country and rising school supply prices, Afghan refugee school children are getting help from community organizations.

It’s a welcome gift for the families after a tough few months.

RELATED: Afghan girls face uncertain future after 1 year of no school

“These children have come here and most of them just had the bags that were on their backs, right?," Mashudah 'Missy' Erfurt, the director and senior digital product manager for Charlotte-based insurance company TIAA, said. "They weren't able to bring their favorite teddy bear with them or bring things that made them feel at home.”

The children and their families were able to pick up things like backpacks, pens, pencils, glue, folders, and clothes. 

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Erfurt volunteered with her company at the supply drive. 

The school supply drive was hosted by The Independence Fund in partnership with Interpreting Freedom Foundation and Veterans Bridge Home.

The Afghan refugees, now in East Charlotte, escaped Afghanistan as US Troops withdrew and the Taliban took over the country.

Erfurt, a United States Marine Corps veteran, came to America as a child 40 years ago and sees herself in the kids she's helping.  

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"My mother packed me and my three other siblings and said, 'We have to leave,'" Erfurt said. "This was no longer a safe country for us in Afghanistan." 

The Independence Fund has spent months helping the families who put their lives in danger to help American soldiers. 

"Most of the families could not speak the language," Zia Ghafoori, Independence Fund Allies program manager, said. "And it's hard for them to get a job. And we are helping these families from every angle we could so that they could achieve their goals." 

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The families still have a long road ahead of them financially, emotionally, and mentally.

“They have a lot of depression and stress that they left their loved ones behind and the country's like in the hands of those vultures in Al-Queda," Ghafoori, a former US Army Special Forces Interpreter, who worked as an interpreter for 14 years, said. 

To have one thing off their checklist, school supplies are an act of care they won’t soon forget. 

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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