SARANAC LAKE – From a small roadside stand on Park Avenue, Silas, Sophie, and Amelia Colarusso make a big difference.
The siblings – 8, 13 and 10, respectively – are selling handicrafts from their front yard to raise money to help refugees from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan who live on a military base in New Jersey.
Her mother Kristi said she and her husband explained to their children the news about Afghanistan, the withdrawal of the US military and the takeover of the Taliban.
“We heard what happened and just wanted to help somehow.” said Amelie.
They carried a fake kitchen stand from their basement, a relic from their preschool days, and sold bookmarks, jewelry, and paintings at 425 Park Avenue. They weren’t expecting to raise a lot of money.
“Literally I said, ‘Oh man, I think we’re only going to get cents'” said Silas.
They raised $ 230 in the first three days and this money has already been sent to a church that supports the Afghan evacuees.
“The people of Saranac Lake are really generous” said Sophie.
Your customers are walkers from the neighborhood, friends of the family who stop by to see what they have set up, and drivers who step on the brakes as they drive past.
They have brightly colored origami bookmarks that fit snugly over the corners of a page. Animals are drawn on some. They have bracelets, earrings, and key chains, all made from Lego bricks and beads. Sophi has a painting of a fluffy Shiba Inu dog.
Sophie said her parents have friends in New Jersey who go to a church with a direct link to volunteers on the U.S. military’s McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Joint Base, where about 8,500 evacuees are currently living in tented camps.
Kristi said it was overwhelming and crippling to see people flee for their lives and end up in a safe country with just what they can carry.
“We want to show our neighbors God’s love” She said.
The Colarusso children were doing handicrafts before they started selling them, but they quickly ran out of supplies and made more. They started with fixed prices for their goods but then moved on to only accepting donations because people were giving so much more money, the prices were pointless.
Last week, US Senators announced that the base will host around 4,500 refugees, with the potential to host up to 13,000. They need supplies for all of the new residents – food, clothing, and essentials.
The US is screening all refugees and preparing to find them permanent homes in America.
Last month, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that New York was ready to accept refugees from Afghanistan.
Kristi said they have been stationed outside the booth in the evenings since they resumed school in Saranac Lake last week, but they plan to keep raising money and sending donations as the needs of Afghan refugees are not going away anytime soon.
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