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Buffalo State student collecting toys for displaced Afghan children on their way to Buffalo

Rachael Koone, a junior at Buffalo State, has set out on a mission to collect toys for children displaced from Afghanistan. She's using her car like Santa's sleigh.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Local refugee resettlement agencies have been busy prepping for hundreds of Afghan evacuees to be relocated in Buffalo, and there are efforts underway to make sure their adjustment is as easy as possible. 

"These children will be stuck inside at the dorms with not much to do, so I began to think about that and decided to reach out to my community," said Rachael Koone, a junior at Buffalo State, who has set out on a mission to collect toys for Afghan refugees.

She went to Facebook asking for donations and is using her car like Santa's sleigh.

2 On Your Side asked her, you'll be the Santa for some of these kids? 

"Right, actually after I grabbed all the toys on the first day I was like wow this must feel like what Santa Clause feels like, and it feels pretty good honestly," Koone said. "I have over 25 to 30 people who are willing to donate some toys, some books, some games I've already collected."

As an education major, this future elementary school teacher is using her perspective to find those perfect gifts. 

"Educational toys is what I'm looking toward, so educational toys anything that does counting does vowel sounds, phonics, anything like that I think that can be really beneficial," Koone said. "I'm just going on weekends. I've set up a time, some boundaries for myself, going from 8 a.m. to 5 or 7 p.m. at night, just going around the community."

There's a broader effort at Buff State to collect household items for Afghan refugees. 

So far, kitchen and bath items, appliances, and cleaning supplies have been donated. Buffalo expects to resettle 335 evacuees from Afghanistan, and roughly a third of them will come to Buff State. 

"They're on their way, they have not arrived yet, but we are anticipating approximately 100 individuals to come temporarily to be housed on campus," said Laura Hill Rao, director of Civic and Community Engagement at Buffalo State.

According to the Governor's Office, back in September, the U.S. Department of State's Afghan Placement and Assistance Program informed the state that as many as 1,143 Afghan nationals evacuated this summer could be resettled in communities throughout New York this year and into next year.

The Governor's Office has said Western New York agencies will resettle up to 335 Afghanistan evacuees.

Local refugee resettlement agencies are busy preparing housing for Afghan refugees. Those agencies include, the International Institute, Jewish Family Services of WNY, Journey's End Refugee Services, and Jericho Road Community Health Center. According to D'Youville College, Afghan families started arriving on campus last week.

In the meantime, Rachael will be buzzing around filling up her sleigh, giving back at the perfect time. 

"It's been amazing, its been overwhelming, its been exciting I'm so proud of my community for being willing to help," Koone said.

If you would like to help out with household supplies, Buffalo State encourages people who are off campus to go through Buffalo United for Afghan Evacuees, which is also collecting household supplies. 

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