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San Diego woman turns home into storehouse for Afghan refugee supplies

As part of the "Helping El Cajon Refugees" Facebook group, Barbara Cummings stores household goods in her San Diego home and toiletries to give to refugees.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A makeshift store of supplies sits inside Barbara Cummings' living room in Tierrasanta.

"This is affectionately known as the mini mart as you can see, it really is a mini mart and right here is my baby section," said Cummings.

All the necessary toiletries she buys and has donated are given to Afghan refugees, who just moved to San Diego County. 

The donations range from toothpaste and toilet paper to bookbags, and each section is labeled.

"I even have like 400 bottles of my nail polish that was donated," said Cummings.

Barbara used to live in Bahrain and visited places throughout the Middle East while her husband served there in the Navy.

She's always stored items to give away, but ever since the Fall of Kabul in August when Afghan families fled to the U.S., her home became a warehouse for the "Helping El Cajon Refugees" Facebook group.

"Every month or so we check back in with a family that we have already serviced, and they'll say 'oh please, can we have some more laundry soap or some shoes?'" said Cummings.

From downstairs to upstairs in two bedrooms are where more kitchen items are stored.

"Every family gets a whole layout. I have a drainer, knives and a can opener, pots and pans,” Cummings said.

Then more items are spilling over in the front driveway.

“A family was supposed to pick this up today. It's all packed out and ready to go, and I'll have to bring it inside," Cummings said.

Cummings keeps even more things in the garage from strollers to toys and furniture.

"Somebody donated these six gorgeous chairs, and I spent all Sunday afternoon doing upholstery for the bottom with purple trim,” Cummings said.

It doesn't stop there, Cummings keeps more items outside in an 8-person camping tent.

"We have bicycles and scooters over on one side. We have clothing that needs to be curated, and we have a whole bunch of school supplies, and I just finished these little tables,” Cummings said.

Cummings calls this a labor of love.

"This is just what I do. This is my job - my retirement job. It is absolutely amazing, and it touches me deeply. I do this for the families and my veteran friends,” Cummings said.

The major items that are still in need include: pajamas, underwear and bicycles.

Anyone who would like to make a monetary donation to the group’s efforts can do so on the Second Families site.

WATCH RELATED: Explaining the process of Aghan refugees coming to San Diego (October 2021)

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