Mattress drive launched to benefit Afghan refugees in San Antonio

Bedding will go to refugees now sleeping on floors

SAN ANTONIO – The moment they saw mattresses being delivered to their apartment, the joy was unmistakable in the faces of the Afghan children who lived there.

They spoke no English, but they put their hands to one side of their faces, like pillows.

“It brings tears to my eyes. I’m happy they’re here and they’re safe,” said Sonia Razaqyar, who was their age when her family fled Afghanistan 20 years ago.

Now a medical student working on her Ph.D. at UT Health, Razaqyar said she jumped at the chance after hearing the Center for Refugee Services needing mattresses for many of the Afghan families and individuals now living in San Antonio.

“Seeing the families go through the same thing my family went through, you know, it’s been really hard,” Razaqyar said.

She said in a way, it’s been therapeutic being able to help them with something as basic as mattress.

Razaqyar said she is very grateful to her friends, neighbors and colleagues who responded to what she posted on the NextDoor app.

“I had to do something,” said Sloane Vonwertz, who donated a gently used mattress and frame after having seen what happened in Afghanistan. “The only way that this world moves forward in a positive way is if we help one another.”

Razaqyar, her husband and a good friend of theirs spent Tuesday delivering at least a dozen gently used mattresses in the back of a pickup truck directly to those who needed them.

Pat Tappmeyer, donation coordinator at the Center for Refugee Services, said the greatest need is for single mattresses, comforters and sheets. She said donors are welcomed to contact the center by phone, through Facebook or its website, which also accepts monetary contributions or purchases on its Amazon Wish List.

She said the center itself has no room to store mattresses, so it’s best to do what Razaqyar has done by delivering them directly to CRS clients.

As of September, Tappmeyer said CRS has helped nearly 1,000 Afghan arrivals in San Antonio, many of whom fled their war-torn country with virtually nothing of their own.

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.