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Sun Prairie organization sends ‘Keep Calm Kits’ to Afghan refugees

12 kits have already arrived at Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Virginia.
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:33 PM EDT
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SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (WMTV) - A local business is helping to provide mental health resources for Afghan refugees.

Keep Calm Tool Kits founder Courtney Willegal says Fort Pickett, which is housing around 5,000 refugees in Blackstone, Virginia, is the first base to receive the kits.

“Our hope is to reach all of the bases and be able to reach all of the Afghan refugees and be able to help them because mental health affects everybody no matter your age, your demographics, your culture your gender,” said Willegal.

The packages include sensory toys designed to calm stress and anxiety.

She says refugees are likely feeling anxiety, depression, and experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.

“They’re leaving their war-stricken country, getting on a plane, and coming to an area they don’t know,” said Willegal. “They’re having a really, really hard time.”

Back in April, Willegal and her son Sean, were working to get kits like these in the hands of first responders.

“We just want to help everybody out there understand that there’s ways to be proactive versus reactive,” said Willegal. “I feel like I was put in the right place at the right time.”

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Team Rubicon, a veteran run non-profit, says the outpouring of support from people like Willegal is uplifting.

“It’s what us As Americans have always done,” said John Stuhlmacher, the Senior Associate of Operations for Afghan Resettlement. “When times are tough, we step in and help out one another.”

Stuhlmacher says its immensely difficult for the refugees to feel a sense of normalcy.

“Trying to normalize a very unnormal situation just with small gestures is something that we can all do to make these things better,” he added.

Willegal says her way to help is to send these kits as organizations request them.

“If you take a look at those individuals that are coming from a different country here, the need is great with anything,” said Willegal. “In order to be able to provide that calming environment for them, these kits and these types of resources are greatly needed.”

Although Willegal says she likely will never meet any of the Afghan refugees who use the kits, she knows she’s making a difference.

“Even from a garage in Sun Prairie, I am making an impact so that way these individuals know they are welcomed,” said Willegal.

If you’d like to support the efforts of Keep Calm Tool Kits to send resources to Afghan refugee resettlement camps, click HERE to donate.

To learn more about ways to provide clothing and other items of need for refugees, click HERE.

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