Tulare native and Navy veteran collects donations to help Afghan refugees

Ashley Brantley estimates she got more than $10,000 in donations, with about $2,000 coming from the Central Valley.
TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Ashley Brantley is a long way from her hometown of Tulare.

The Central Valley native works as an air traffic control officer in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where tens of thousands of Afghan refugees fled to escape the recent chaos in Kabul as the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

"I don't even know how to explain it," Brantley said. "You're scared, you're overwhelmed, you're nervous, you're trying to find a way to help when really there's not much that you can do if you're not there."

Those refugees were processed in Qatar before being sent to countries that would accept them, but they did so without basic necessities, including children who were sent without their parents.

"There was a lot of unaccompanied children that came here that families were just wanting to get them on the planes," Brantley said.

Desperate to help, Brantley blasted social media asking for monetary donations and basic necessities like diapers, deodorant and clothing - and was overwhelmed with the response.

"Little by little, things are coming in... and then my reception is sending me videos of my apartment door and it's flooded with boxes," she said.

Brantley estimates she got more than $10,000 in donations, with about $2,000 coming from her hometown of Tulare and the rest of the Central Valley.

She also partnered with a local company to provide 1,700 snack bags for refugees as they arrived, and Brantley's donations are just one of the multiple humanitarian aid efforts being operated out of Qatar.

She says the experience has opened her eyes to how lucky she was to grow up in Tulare and America, and she hopes her work far from home helps those who are seeking a new one.

"It's so heartwarming, it's so fulfilling to know that you're bringing a small piece of hope or happiness to somebody during a time like this," she said.

The last items have been distributed to refugees and Brantley has stopped taking donations, but she says that Women for Afghan Women is a worthy cause and encourages donating to organizations that are helping refugees.

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