Donation drives held in New Jersey in preparation for Afghan refugees

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- A major donation drive was held in New Jersey to gather supplies for the thousands of Afghan refugees expected in the Tri-State area.

"I feel the pain, the anger these refugees are feeling," Madina Nabi said.

Donations poured into the Islamic Center of Passaic County on Tuesday.

There are thousands of Afghan refugees finding a new temporary home at Fort Dix. For Nabi, this is personal.

"I have family in hiding in Kabul," she said. "They can't even get groceries. Our planes have left but they are still there."

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The principal is downplaying his role and crediting the veterans who assisted the military during the evacuations.

Nabi is also a refugee. She escaped the Taliban in 1994.

"We were not able to go to school, we were in hiding," she said.

That was before migrating to the United States.

"None of us have any baby pictures, none of us have any of our belongings. Whatever we could, we put it in that truck and left," Nabi said.

Twenty years later, Nabi is paying it forward.

Dozens of volunteers sorted items from toys to diapers. The influx of refugees prompted a larger demand for donations, and the Passaic County community responded swiftly.

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"The owner's tears and nervous chirps from the cougar as we drove her away painfully drives home the many victims of this horrendous trade and myth that wild animals belong anywher

"I'm here to help, welcome the refugees and bring some light to them," Kaitlyn Kalwa said.

Eyewitness News is told the refugees are going through processing, medical screening and have started taking English courses.

Leaders say the next challenge is finding permanent housing.

"We are working with organizations and the governor's office to make sure we identify proper housing for them," said Sikandar Kahn, the founder of Global Emergency Response and Assistance.

Kahn served in Afghanistan in 2014.

"I Think it's the worst humanitarian crisis," Kahn said.

But the work begins to restore a sense of security and hope for the refugees.

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