What started as a simple Facebook post by Taylor Corley, a New Language Senior Coordinator with Indianapolis Public Schools, has quickly developed into a grassroots movement within the district.
In just a matter of a week, an estimated 80 to 100 Indianapolis residents have donated a variety of items to refugees from Afghanistan now living in the district. In 2021, the U.S. government helped about 75,000 Afghans resettle after their nation fell to the Taliban.
The effort began when Taylor spoke to a family new to the district about transportation issues.
“I called the family to let them know they would not get transportation to and from school because they live 0.9 miles from school, and the IPS walk zone is within a mile,” she said. “The father was very concerned about his children making it to school because they are new to the country and do not speak English yet. While I couldn’t change the decision about getting them transportation, I did offer to walk them to school in the morning to show them the way.
“Because they live in my neighborhood, I asked my neighborhood Facebook group if anyone could donate hats, scarves, and gloves so I could make sure they were safely bundled up for the long walk in 10-degree weather. My neighborhood immediately offered the needed items, and was eager to help on a bigger scale.”
Taylor said her peers in the project were amazed by the outpouring of support.
“People have been so kind that after two days of drop-offs, the first room was packed. So, we opened up two additional rooms,” she said. “I think the support shows how open our community is to welcoming immigrants and refugees.”
Jessica Dunn, IPS Executive Director of Enrichment Programs, said the district is preparing for up to 150 Afghan children to come into the district by the end of the month.
About 70 students are already enrolled within the IPS. Resettle organizations in Exodus and Catholic Charities are working with the school district to help resettle as more refugees in the Indianapolis area.