SPARTA — More than 250 cardboard boxes filled with clothing and other donations were stacked in rows inside a warehouse in Sparta Thursday morning. A pile of bags 5 feet high with even more donations lined one of the aisles.
During one of the first looks inside the donation facility at the National Guard Armory, volunteers with Team Rubicon organized the clothing, and U.S. Army personnel loaded the boxes into a large truck that would be driven over to Fort McCoy military base in western Wisconsin.
The items would eventually end up in the hands of the 12,500 Afghan refugees currently staying at the base.
Although Fort McCoy has received “many metric tons” of donations, the base is still seeking clothing donations, and launched a clothing drive Thursday specifically for winter clothes, said Jeff Wagg, planning section chief with Team Rubicon, a disaster response nonprofit that is in charge of the clothing donations. Hats, gloves, coats and heavy jeans are needed.
“The temporary guests have arrived just in time for the approach of colder weather,” Fort McCoy federal coordinator Angie Salazar said during a news conference announcing the drive. “As many of them fled with only the clothes on their backs and very few belongings, there is an immediate need for winter clothing and shoes.”
As of Tuesday, many Afghans at the base still had not been able to get a new set of clothing. A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said Fort McCoy personnel are distributing clothes “as fast as we can.”