Utah groups donate minivans to Afghan families

May 24, 2022, 7:36 AM | Updated: Jun 22, 2022, 2:05 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Afghan families who fled to Utah last fall are slowly assimilating to their new life.

One obstacle they face is getting around town without a car, which is why the community stepped up to give them a lift.

Groups representing different faiths — such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Muslims — raised money to purchase minivans for four Afghan families.

“These folks come over and they end up all over the valley and they have to travel large distances to be able to get food, to school and to just buy whatever essentials they need,” said Jeff Kirkham, retired U.S. Army special forces.

The group gathered in Bountiful last week to roll out the donated minivans.

Kirkham served in the U.S. Army special forces with these former Afghan soldiers and considers them friends.

Hunted by the Taliban and al-Qaeda, he says the men fled Afghanistan with their families leaving everything behind.

Kirkham says about 100 families call Utah home, and he’s happy they can now navigate their new surroundings with no worries.

“We’re hoping it’s a program that will keep moving forward because this is really empowering them so they can get out and get around and really start to live the American dream. They’re a great people and I think they’ll be great Utahns.”

Kirkham says these minivans may have one owner, but they’re planning on sharing it with other families and help them get around.

This is the fifth minivan the group has donated. They’re hoping the community will continue to give so they can secure 15 more minivans.

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Utah groups donate minivans to Afghan families