“I just expected to have a warm coat and also to have good sneakers, thick pants,” said Yousufi, a 23-year-old Afghan woman who asked to be identified only by her last name to protect family members still in Afghanistan. While she also received a coat in recent days thanks to outside help, Yousufi said she spent weeks outside with clothing no heavier than sports shorts and traditional South Asian dresses.
“Most of the time I work in the workshops for legal advice,” she said. “Sometimes I am volunteering in front of the clinic. We are outside so we need warm clothes.”
The shortage of coats is not from a lack of inventory or donations.
In late September, base officials said they had more than enough winter coats for everyone after clothing drives led by Team Rubicon. But as coats were distributed to the more than 250 barracks-style housing units on the base, many of the coats did not fit the refugees, said John Stuhlmacher, a senior operations associate for Team Rubicon.
With volunteers only learning of the shortage last week, Team Rubicon put out a request for 3,000 winter coats to the Wisconsin Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, which will source coats from partners such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Goodwill, Lands’ End and St. Vincent de Paul. Community members interested in donating can drop off new or gently used, freshly laundered clothes at Goodwill locations in southeastern Wisconsin or purchase items from an Amazon wishlist for refugees, updated daily, at go.madison.com/afghan-aid.