Team Rubicon, Bucks host winter clothing drive to help Afghan refugees

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- With the snow falling and wind blowing, team members and volunteers from Team Rubicon gathered outside Fiserv Forum Saturday morning collecting winter clothes for Afghan refugees that have been resettled in Wisconsin.

Team Rubicon, a veteran-based disaster relief organization, has taken on the challenge of helping the thousands of Afghan refugees that arrived at Fort McCoy earlier this year settle into their new homes.

With the generous support of communities and groups throughout the state, members say they're ready to enter stage two of that process.

"Stage one was helping make sure everybody had the base minimums to survive, basically. A lot of people came, some of them really without a shirt on their back. Getting everybody that initial couple sets of clothes, the items they need to move forward," explained Mike Martel, Operations Associate with Team Rubicon. "Our next phase of this is to identify; working with resettlement agencies, identify the family that's moving in, the location they're moving. We're putting together furniture and houseware so that way when they're getting ready to move, they just have to turn the key and walk in the door and they're ready to go."

Jean Claassen was one of several people that showed up to donate winter clothes; anything from boots and hats to jackets and gloves.

"I just wanted to give back and help out those in need," Claassen said, encouraging others to do the same. "Share what you can to help those in need. Especially the little kids."

Martel says the generosity from people like Jean is what has helped make the mission so successful so far.

"It's been really refreshing to see that level of giving and caring," Martel said. "Having one person come through is a positive event and if you start there, it's only going up."

Saturday's event was a partnership between Team Rubicon and the Milwaukee Bucks. The first 50 people to donate were given a voucher good for two free tickets to Wednesday's game against the Indiana Pacers at Fiserv Forum.

"On a day like today we really can see how important it is to have the winter weather gear," said Quinn Otero, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager with the Bucks. "It's the season of giving right now and I think we're just getting started with Team Rubicon."

Martel thanked all those who have donated so far, saying the refugees he's been able to meet with have been extremely grateful for the generosity coming from their new neighbors.

"They had no idea what to expect. They didn't expect this," Martel said. "Everyone I've talked to is just really amazed at the level of generosity and compassion that they've been shown. On their behalf, thank you everybody for the support. It's hard to explain really how much of an impact it actually does have."

Those interested in donating are encouraged to visit teamrubiconusa.org/resettlement for information on how to do so.

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