A new initiative is asking Americans for donations this Christmas to help save Christians who risk death in Afghanistan during the brutal winter. Its goal is to provide a “safe winter” for the men, women, and children located there.

“Without our help these Christian families are going to die,” Jason Jones, founder of the Safe Winter initiative by The Vulnerable People Project, said in a Dec. 6 press release. “They are starving and freezing to death.”

The Vulnerable People Project, run by the Human Rights Education and Relief Organization (H.E.R.O.) and led by Jones, began the new initiative after the United States withdrew its military from Afghanistan in August. 

Jones, a U.S. Army veteran, Catholic filmmaker, and humanitarian, called on Americans to help Afghans who rely on his organization for shelter, food, wood, coal and propane. His project estimates that it costs $2,000 per month for each safe house and $250 per month to provide a family of five with food and heat through the winter.

“We know that the American people want to be involved and we want to show them how to support this urgent humanitarian initiative,” he said. “We have already helped to support safe houses in the region and because of our work, these vulnerable families are coming to us for shelter, food and heat.”

The United Nations warned in September that 1 million Afghan children could die as winter begins. Jones hoped to change that number.

“We will not stand by and let these people die,” he said. “During this Christmas season, there is nothing more admirable or noble than to reach out and provide a home and safety to those in peril of death — a little of our treasured resources will go a long way and will give the gift of life.”

He added, “Please stand with us as we stand with our friends, brothers and sisters in Afghanistan.”

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Mustasfa Assady, project manager for the Safe Winter initiative, emphasized the stress placed on families.

“People are desperate for food and when they have multiple kids they want to make sure to feed at least some of them, and they think by selling them they will guarantee food for that child as well as the remaining family members,” Assady said.

Jones’ organization has been helping those in Afghanistan since August, and they plan to continue their work — with Americans’ help.

“Since August we have been helping evacuate people, provide visas and we have brought much needed basic services to these people whose lives hang in the balance,” he said. “This is urgent. We need to help these people now.”

The Vulnerable People Project’s website highlights Catholic social teaching on the dignity of the human person and quotes Pope St. John Paul II.

“What is urgently called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life,” the former pontiff said. “All together, we must build a new culture of life.”