Toys for Afghan refugee children in San Antonio bring joy, hope

‘Their happiness is our happiness,’ says Afghan father of three

SAN ANTONIO – Refugee parents, some with a son or daughter, patiently waited their turn outside Resurgent SA Church on Fredericksburg Road to pick up Christmas gifts for their children.

“Thank you for this because our children will be very happy. It is their first Christmas and they are very excited for that,” said Wahigullah Zagran, a father of three.

A former interpreter for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Zagran said what most parents would say about their children, “Their happiness is our happiness.”

Jean Sherrill, assistant director of the Center for Refugee Services, said she’s often told, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for helping our children.”

Sherrill said refugee parents are very aware Americans are donating toys because they want to help.

Almost 1,000 toys filled the church sanctuary, which were donated by people like Jan Norris, a longtime supporter of the Center for Refugee Services.

“If I could bring a little joy to these children is just making my day, makes my Christmas,” Norris said.

Now in its eighth year, the center’s annual toy drive sponsored by Worldwide Languages and Communication, had to get enough gifts for Afghan families who began arriving in September.

“We have already received three times the expected amount of people because of the reputation that San Antonio has of being welcoming and generous,” Sherrill said.

But given what many of children have gone through, Sherrill said they’ve been careful not to give any gifts associated with conflict.

“Even something as innocent as a Nerf gun that may not to you seem like it has anything to do with conflict or war, but it involves something that’s going to be pointed at you or something that may hit you,” Sherrill said.

She said after Friday, toys will be given to children as they continue to arrive in San Antonio over the coming months.

At that point, Sherill said its operation will return to the CRS offices at 8703 Wurzbach Road from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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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.