Volunteers, Donations Needed to Welcome Federally Approved Refugees to Asheville Area

Lutheran Services Carolina’s (LSC) New Americans Program is seeking volunteers to help welcome international refugees to the Asheville area.

“We expect between 70 and 75 refugees from around the world to arrive in the Asheville area in the next couple of months,” explained Hanna Demarcus, the program’s resettlement director. “All of the people we serve are legally approved by the U.S. Department of State for entry into the country. They are typically fleeing persecution, war, unsafe political situations, or disasters.”

Since 2022, LSC’s New Americans Program in Asheville has served about 400 Humanitarian Parolees, another special federal category – about 100 from Afghanistan and over 300 from Ukraine. LSC helps qualifying clients find housing, enroll in school and public benefits, access health services and employment, and get acclimated to life in the United States through English classes and cultural orientations.

There are several ways to help. “We’re forming Circles of Welcome – teams of six to ten people who are matched with a refugee family to assist them in specific ways for six months to a year,” said Demarcus. “Each Circle will need two leaders, who coordinate with LSC staff, plus several other members, who provide transportation to appointments, help the family apply for benefits and enroll children in school, and help them set up their first home.” Circles of Welcome are an ideal way for religious congregations, clubs, neighborhoods, and groups of friends to get involved with refugee resettlement.

LSC is also seeking in-kind donations of furniture, cookware, bedding and other home goods in excellent condition. “We need specific types of Welcome Kits: kitchen, bathroom, cleaning supplies, and so on,” added Demarcus. “We provide the shopping list. It’s a great charity project for Scout troops and families.”

Financial contributions are also welcome; they help the program meet New Americans’ unexpected needs and purchase needed items that are not donated. To give online, visit lscarolinas.net/donate-to-refugee-services and select Asheville New Americans Program from the drop-down menu. Checks can also be mailed to Lutheran Services Carolinas, P.O. Box 947, Salisbury, NC 28145; please note “Asheville New Americans Program” in the memo line.

To learn more about volunteer and donation opportunities, please contact Outreach Coordinator Anna Khaver at [email protected].