Apr 1, 2022 - News

Austin elementary school raises money for Afghan refugee kids

A mural on the side of Travis Heights Elementary School

A mural on the side of Travis Heights Elementary School. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

A South Austin elementary school's thrift sale is aimed at collecting goods for an influx of Afghan refugees who have settled in the area, displaced from a homeland 8,000 miles away.

The big picture: Nestled in a greenway by Big Stacy Pool, Travis Heights Elementary School has enrolled more than 56 Afghan children since the start of the school year — a record for the campus.

  • It's not unusual to see kids wearing traditional Afghan garb as they hang from monkey bars on the school playground.

What they're saying: "All of these children and their families relocated to Austin and are starting completely from scratch," said Anna Roth, a Travis Heights parent and PTA volunteer who helps put together the Thunderbird Thrift sale at the school.

What they're doing: The school is hiring bilingual parents as substitute teachers "to ease the transition of kids, and as a way for new parents to earn income," Roth tells Axios.

  • Otherwise, she said, it's sometimes up to third and fourth graders to translate.
  • Pashto signage now appears in the food lines.

What to donate: You can drop clothes for all ages, housewares, furniture, electronics, books, toys, sports equipment and baby gear. All donations can be brought to the school campus today.

How it works: The thrift sale charges garage sale prices, and disadvantaged students are sent home with coupons so their families can buy what they need.

Zoom out: The school district currently has 947 refugee or asylum students, Eduardo Villa of Austin ISD tells Axios.

Flashback: We wrote about Austin ISD's preparations for Ukrainian refugees.


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