Organizations set up women and children wellness centers at Fort McCoy

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FORT MCCOY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Additional efforts are underway at Fort McCoy to make Afghan refugees feel welcomed in Wisconsin.

Multiple volunteer organizations are working at the military base to make it feel somewhat like a home as up to 10,000 refugees could seek temporary housing there.

"Imagine trying to set up a small town in a week with all the services people need," said Karen Becker, director of marketing for Catholic Charities.

There are about 3,000 refugees at Fort McCoy as of Friday, Aug. 27, according to lawmakers, but Becker believes that number to be much higher.

This week Catholic Charites of La Crosse said they have volunteers setting up women and children wellness centers. The goal is to set up more in the coming days.

"It's kind of like a neighbor gathering place for women and children to come spend couple hours and gather a sense of community," said Becker.

Becker is one of dozens of volunteers who travel to Fort McCoy to deliver donations and make sure refugees have the resources and services they need.

Organizations are expecting the number of Afghan refugees seeking shelter at Fort McCoy to triple in the coming days, boosting the immediate need for donations.

While diapers and clothing are in demand, Becker said, monetary donations can go much further because it can go towards a wide range of items Afghan refugees need.

"One day we are inundated with guests looking for flip-flops, now we had a cold morning and they're looking for sweatshirts," Becker said. "Trying to assess the needs is a challenge because it changes often."

Volunteers are grateful for the donations they've received so far, but they stress the need will be long-lasting.

"We want to make sure we're not just providing that initial response, which is indeed important and crucial right now, but three years from now it's not going to be in the headlines and help will be needed," said Rev. Paul Erickson, Bishop of Greater Milwaukee Synod.

While Catholic Charities has volunteers based on the ground, they're also collecting donations from the community.

The Red Cross is also at Fort McCoy offering services that range from physical and mental check-ins to getting necessities to refugees. The organization also advises it's better to donate financially, rather than items. You can learn more or donate by clicking here.

For more information on ways to help, or to make donations, visit:

Team Rubicon: https://teamrubiconusa.org

International Rescue Committee: https://www.rescue.org/

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: https://www.usccb.org/

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse: https://cclse.org/

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