An influx of nearly 2,000 people at Camp Atterbury has only increased the need for supplies there.
Elizabeth Dunn is amazed by the number of diapers they’ve needed.
“Turns out our biggest unmet need is diaper rash cream,” said Dunn, a board member with Exodus Refugee Resettlement in Indianapolis. “These little kids sat in the Kabul airport for five days in wet diapers.”
Department of Homeland Security officials updated reporters Wednesday on Operation Allies Welcome, saying that the number of Afghan evacuees temporarily housed at Camp Atterbury has grown to nearly 7,000.
They are currently undergoing final health and safety screenings before they are settled across the United States. Some may end up in Indiana. Officials expect the process to take about 10 weeks.
Dunn has spent the last week or so volunteering for the Red Cross, which is one of two non-governmental organizations helping with the resettlement process at Camp Atterbury. She says she’s been approached by countless Hoosiers who want to help, and both the Red Cross and Team Rubicon are still accepting donations from Hoosiers who are unable to donate their time.
American Red Cross
The Red Cross has 48 volunteers assisting operations at Camp Atterbury in some fashion, providing new arrivals with essentials such as water, baby care items and clothing.
The organization is not accepting in-kind donations and instead prefers monetary contributions. Dunn says that’s because they do not have the manpower to handle the wave of donations that would roll in.
“The onslaught of use donations is often called the ‘disaster after the disaster,’” Dunn said. “Sometimes the cost of labor (cleaning and sorting) is more than the worth of the item.”
Monetary donations allow the Red Cross to order exactly what is needed when it’s needed, according to Dunn. Those interested in helping can donate online.
The Red Cross is still accepting volunteers.
Veteran-led nonprofit Team Rubicon is accepting both in-kind and monetary donations. Similar to the Red Cross, they don’t have the people to clean and sort used items, so they have a Camp Atterbury-specific Amazon Wishlist online.
Jennifer Dubeansky, an IU graduate student in the department of Central Eurasian studies, has scheduled donation drives in Indianapolis and Bloomington this weekend to collect and sort gently used goods for Team Rubicon.
“What they want to do is make sure that everyone has at least two sets of clothing,” Dubeansky said. “They're looking specifically for modest clothing.”
That includes full-length skirts, pants and graphic-less shirts. Prayer mats and headscarves are also needed, but the biggest need right now is baby supplies – especially diapers.
“We took a load over on Monday and yeah, the diapers were received with much glee,” Dubeansky said.
The first Dubeansky-led drop off will be Saturday at All Souls Unitarian Church in Indianapolis from noon to 6 p.m.
The second drop off is scheduled for Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington from noon to 5 p.m.