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Veteran gathers donations for Afghan refugees at Fort McCoy

Posted at 6:06 AM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 07:06:26-04

UNION GROVE — The hardships of war can have long lasting effects on service men and women. Sometimes that effect is a driving desire to help others.

A trailer in Union Grove is starting to fill up with clothes, coats, and shoes. The surrounding community has already filled it once before.

“It was fantastic,” says Kurt Paskewic. He and his wife, Kris, own the trailer. “I get chills just thinking about it, it’s unbelievable how people will try to help people that they don’t even know because they know they just want a better life.”

Kurt and Kris sent that first trailer load up to Fort McCoy to help Afghan refugees. The couple saw lists of needed items and knew there were area community groups trying to gather donations.

So the Paskewics decided to help coordinate, and offered up a 20-foot trailer from Kris’ business.

“Eight days and it was full,” Kurt says. “And people are still bringing things.”

“I had one church group out of Salem that actually filled up half the trailer on their own. They had a drive at the church and then they brought it all here,” adds Kris.

For Kurt, gathering these donations has a special meaning. He’s an Air Force Master Sergeant and worked with civilian contractors while serving in Afghanistan.

“They were just trying to make a better life for their family,” he says. “They had no choice to be born into where they’re at. But they had the opportunity now to try and make it better.”

Kurt and Kris know that Afghan men, women and families left under desperate circumstances.

“All they had was what was on their backs or what they could carry,” says Kurt.

“And then you step off and you don’t know anybody, you don’t know anything, you don’t know the traditions, and I think it’s amazing that people are trying to help them physically feel like they have a new home.”

Kurt made clear – he’s not helping with donations as any part of his current military service. He says it’s just part of his duty, and it will be even after he retires.

“There’s still a need. People who take the time and serve their country, it’s never ending. It does not stop.”

Kurt says he hopes people can put their politics aside to help these refugees, because their story is an American one.

“A long time ago, everybody’s coming here to look for a better life,” he says. “I hope they’re all taken care of and I hope that eventually they bring the rest of their families to make a better life for them.”

Kurt and Kris say if you want to bring any clothing donations to Fort McCoy, it would be best to bring new items. Kurt says there are currently three 50-foot trailers filled with donations that need to be sorted. New things don’t need sorting and can go straight to the families who need them.

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