Vandals broke into a storage facility and damaged pillows, blankets and other items donated to Kent-based World Relief Seattle that the agency provides to refugees from Afghanistan.
The damage occurred Oct. 2 at the former Goodwill store on the East Hill, 25814 102nd Pl. SE., where the property owner donated the empty space to the agency after it ran out of space at its facility on Pacific Highway South on the West Hill.
“They ripped pillows with a knife,” said Chitra Hanstad, World Relief Seattle executive director, in a phone call. “The items were intended for Afghan refugees.”
To help with cleaning up the storage area, Hanstad reached out to The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization that connects military veterans with new missions in under-resourced communities.
Wes King, of Covington, an Afghan war veteran who joined The Mission Continues after his military service ended, was among those who helped out World Relief Seattle.
“It was disheartening to say the least,” King said during a phone interview about when he first stepped into the damaged storage area. “At first we thought it was a targeted thing, but it was more a random act of vandalism by youth or bad actors.”
King said about 25 pillows had been ripped apart. Whoever broke in through boarded-up windows also urinated on walls and in an office and sprayed a fire extinguisher that caused more damage.
“The property owner felt bad because he donated the space but it was not his fault,” King said.
It took 20 people about three hours to sort through the donated items and move the good items to a safer storage location, King said. He estimated about 90% of the items they were able to keep.
“It was an uplifting moment,” King said about getting the items cleaned up and moved.
World Relief Seattle appreciated the volunteer assistance.
“Former troops helped with the cleanup,” Hanstad said. “It’s pretty cool in that way and a good story.”
World Relief Seattle has helped more than 150 people Afghan refugees so far, Hanstad said. Many of the donated items were from a Q13 Fox drive this summer that included everyday items such as towels, bedding, shampoo, dishes and silverware.
“Folks come with two suitcases and that’s it,” Hanstad said.
The nonprofit agency provides each person with $1,200 to help pay for rent and provides bedding, pots and pans, furniture and other items needed to live in an apartment.
Despite the loss of donated items, Hanstad said the primary need now is gift cards and financial donations. The gift cards allows refugees to buy their own clothing and pick out their own furniture, Hanstad said.
To make a donation, go to worldrelief.org/seattle.