Woodridge, IL–Lisle School District 202 Director of Student Services Jennifer Law has enlisted the support of West Suburban Community Pantry in Woodridge to help support a family of 17 newly resettled Afghan refugees whose children attend Lisle schools.
Since the Taliban captured Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, the US military has evacuated over 76,000 Afghans to the United States. The Qaderi family, including an elderly couple, their three adult sons and their wives and eight grandchildren were evacuated in August and arrived via Germany to a US military base in September 2021. A ninth grandchild was born on the base and is now three months old. The family arrived in Lisle in the middle of December 2021. Two of the mothers are expecting babies this spring.
Law came to know of the family on their 27th day in Lisle. She spent a frantic three days arranging the children’s school registrations, which are required to be complete within 30 days of arrival, and gathering essentials like coats, shoes and school supplies. The children started attending Lisle Elementary School and Lisle Junior High School in January.
“The family has been placed in a local extended stay hotel. The 17 family members are living in four rooms. They do not have a car,” says Law. “Their current needs are being supported by organizations that assist refugees to find jobs and permanent residences. But one night when I was visiting, the men in the family headed out to walk three miles to the nearest grocery store to buy bread, milk and eggs. They were in flip flops and light clothing- in winter. They told me they had done it before, and it took about two hours to make the trip. I knew we had to do more.”
Law contacted West Suburban Community Pantry, which serves children, families and seniors throughout DuPage County as well as Bolingbrook and Romeoville. The Pantry arranged for the family to access the organization’s Virtual Food Pantry to order groceries and diapers online, and will have groceries delivered to the family by Pantry volunteers bi-weekly. The Pantry also connected the family with additional support resources while they seek work and permanent housing.
“We created our Virtual Food Pantry for situations like this and many others where families face extreme barriers to accessing healthy food,” says Laura Coyle, Executive Director of the Pantry. “ We’re so honored to be able to help the Qaderi family. They’ve faced and survived so much adversity already, we’re happy to ease their burden in this small way.”
“The fact that people can get food from the pantry, along with things like diapers is amazing. The Pantry store is set up like a grocery and volunteers are welcoming and friendly, “ says Law. “They have a network of resources and have helped us find solutions to meet this family’s needs. They’re not just a food pantry, they are truly a community pantry.”
A local Pakistani family from District 202 has befriended the family and has organized donations to help the soon-to-be family of 19 with living expenses while they get settled. For additional information or to get help from the West Suburban Community Pantry and the Virtual Food Pantry visit www.wscpantry.org.