News & Politics

4 DMV Businesses Working to Help Afghan Refugees

Where to donate clothes, school supplies, and more.

Volunteers work to sort through donations at Lapis. Photo courtesy of Fatima Popal.

Update as of August 23: Both Lapis and Berliner have temporarily stopped collecting donations except gift cards and electronic gift cards due to an overwhelming outpouring of local support. The restaurants are waiting on partner organizations to greenlight their operations so donation trucks can be mobilized, freeing up storage. For the most up-to-date news on when people can begin bringing in donations once more, please refer to the Lapis and Berliner social media pages.

Similarly, OTF Georgetown is halting donations for the time being, as they coordinate operations with Lapis. They are still collecting gift cards. To stay up-to-date on when they will begin accepting more items, please refer to their Instagram.

As for Ivy and Coney, the bar raised over $3,000 last Wednesday and Thursday, to be donated to HIAS. The Erkiletian Family Foundation donated an additional $5,000. 

There are several ways to help the thousands of Afghan refugees who are headed to the DC area. Here’s what four local businesses are doing:

The Berliner 

Georgetown beer hall the Berliner (3401 Water St., NW) is collecting donations of various items through August 27. From 10 AM to 5 PM on weekdays, you can come in to drop off items such as clothing, electronics, personal hygiene items, and school supplies (check out their list of recommended donations). The donated goods will be distributed to various organizations in the area, including Lutheran Social Services and the International Rescue Committee.

The Berliner, owned by the Popal Group, is also looking for volunteers who can help sort and distribute items.

Lapis 

The Popal Group’s other restaurant, the Afghan dining room Lapis (1847 Columbia Rd., NW) in Adams Morgan, is also collecting donations through August 27, weekdays from 10 AM to 5 PM.

The restaurant says it still has a need for new items, such as pots, pans, underwear, gift cards, modest women’s clothing, and—urgently, it says—children’s clothing.

You can also volunteer your time to help sort through donations. Fatima Popal, the restaurant group’s co-owner, recently set up a new email specifically for volunteer inquiries: afghanrefugeesdc@gmail.com.

For the most updated information, follow Lapis on Instagram.

Ivy and Coney 

Shaw bar Ivy and Coney (1537 Seventh St., NW) is donating all today’s profits (including pickup orders) to HIAS, a Jewish organization dedicated to helping refugees. Per their tweet, the raised funds will go toward providing refugees with “food, housing assistance, job training, [and] gender-based violence counseling,” among other necessities. The Erkiletian Family Foundation, a family-owned real estate business, will be matching the donations up to $5000.

Last night, the bar was able to raise $1400, according to co-owner Josh Saltzman. They are hoping to raise at least another $2,500 tonight.

OrangeTheory Fitness Georgetown 

Today, the OTF (1815 Wisconsin Ave., NW) in Georgetown announced it will set up a donation area in their studio to help arriving refugees. The list of recommended items includes face masks, kitchen supplies, bedding, towels, home decor, and cleaning supplies. They will also collect menstrual products (but not tampons).

The donations will be sent to Lapis and the Berliner owners, the Popal Group. Rina Suka, a sales associate at OTF and the daughter of refugees from Kosovo, says this third donation site will help with distribution and sorting efforts. OTF will be collecting items indefinitely.

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Editorial Fellow

Melissa Santoyo joined Washingtonian in July 2021. She is a rising junior at Northwestern University studying journalism and art.