Madison College and the Ho-Chunk Nation are partnering with the Kindle Project to collect personal items for the Afghan refugees. The college is hosting a drive-thru donation event on Friday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Health and Technology Building, 1705 Hoffman St. (Truax Campus).
In the meantime, donated items may also be dropped off at any Madison College campus from now until Sept. 17.
“I saw this as an opportunity for us to partner with Ho-Chunk,” Nicole Soulier, Madison College’s Community Engagement Coordinator, told Madison365. “And they felt a responsibility to assist these families because they feel, from some of the interviews I saw, they share that they are quite familiar with displacement and what it means to be displaced.
“This donation drive to assist Afghan families, who’ve been relocated to Fort McCoy, sits on traditional Ho-Chunk land,” Soulier added. “They were doing it to extend a welcome because hospitality is the Ho-Chunk way. So seeing that and respecting and knowing them as community leaders, I just thought it was a great opportunity for us to work together and serve.”
This drive will be accepting items including clothing and footwear, personal hygiene items, baby items, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Backpacks and luggage are also being requested so families can keep their items packed and secure while traveling. Clothing items of all sizes are being requested ranging between children and adult sizes. In collaboration with the Ho-Chunk Nation, student veterans who attend Madison College are also taking a lead on this donation drive.
“The folks who actually initiated this project with Ho-Chunk Nation were U.S. military veterans who have experienced being in Afghanistan,” said Soulier. “They have a connection to those communities, and they understand really intimately what’s going on. We want to support our veterans. We have a lot of veterans who come to our college. So that was also another connection that we have with this project.”
Drop-off locations include Commercial Ave. Campus – 2125 Commercial Ave. (Welcome Desk); Goodman South Campus – 2429 S. Perry St. (Welcome Desk); Truax Campus – 1701 Wright St. (Room C1430); Fort Atkinson Campus – 827 Banker Rd. (Welcome Desk); Watertown Campus – 1300 W. Main St. (Welcome Desk); Portage Campus – 330 W. Collins St. (Welcome Desk); and the Reedsburg Campus – 300 Alexander Ave. (Welcome Desk).
This donation drive has brought together communities within the Madison College system across the state.
“This drive itself has brought us together as a community as far as Madison College and Ho-Chunk Nation,” said Soulier. “I do think this donation drive has also really brought our campus community together. The various departments are working together to make this happen and all of our regional campuses. Madison College covers 12 counties in South Central Wisconsin. And so all of these places are helping with this donation drive. So that’s just another sort of thing.
“I think it’s really great — not just in terms of assisting our community and helping our community — but just bringing our community together.”
The Kindle Project Afghanistan Fund provides support to organizations working with artists, women, and girls who are at risk inside Afghanistan or have managed to relocate outside of the country. Their goal is to raise a minimum of $250,000 as soon as possible. For those who want to donate funds directly to the Kindle Project, click here.