Here's how you can help Afghan refugees coming to suburbs

Hundreds of Afghan refugees are expected to arrive in Illinois in the coming days (check out today's front page story if you haven't already).

Several suburban mosques will be supporting them with housing, food, clothing and other needs.

Here's how you can help, too.

ICNA Relief Chicago has been welcoming new Afghan refugee families at its Glendale Heights headquarters and Devon Avenue resource center. Donate to ICNA Relief's Refugee Welcome Kit Drive by dropping off new items at the Glendale Heights office, 1793 Bloomingdale Road, Suite 4.

The office is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Donations of pots and pans, kettles/flasks, dinner sets, kitchen utensils, area rugs, towels, bed sheets, blankets, vacuum cleaners and small kitchen appliances are being accepted. For monetary donations, visit

Also, check out the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago's Afghan Refugee Resource Center to help with housing, job opportunities, and furniture, clothing and appliance donations, or to volunteer to help with refugee resettlement, at

Punjabi language

February not only is known for being the start of Chinese New Year and Black History Month. In Illinois this year, it also has been proclaimed Punjabi Language Month by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

That's in recognition of the contributions of the more than 50,000 Punjabi-speaking residents statewide, particularly in Palatine, which is home to a large Sikh population.

The Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago in Palatine is committed to preserving, protecting and sharing Punjabi language, literature, arts, music, dance, culture, films, festivals and traditions, said Rajinder Singh Mago, a member of the society's governing board.

“Punjabis have received accolades for their valor in World Wars I & II, as a matter of fact, the only non-British community to receive the highest number of Victoria Cross medals for their bravery in the battlefield fighting for the Allies,” Mago said. “Punjabis are proud, adventurous, hospitable people who are fun loving and take pride in giving to the world delicious Punjabi cuisine.”

The recognition is timely, coming ahead of the United Nations International Mother Language Day, a global observance held on Feb. 21 by U.N.E.S.C.O. to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and the preservation and protection of all languages.

Punjabi, the ninth-most widely spoken language in the world, originated around the 7th century in the Punjab region of then-undivided India and Pakistan. It is spoken by more than 113 million people worldwide who mainly are Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians with roots in the region. It is recognized as one of the official languages in India, Pakistan, United Kingdom and Canada.

“Several activities and events to celebrate the Punjabi Language Month have been planned for the Metro Chicago area. Those will be low-key events this year due to the ongoing pandemic,” said Parvinder Singh Nanua, president of nonprofit Palatine society.

Never forget

Join Chicago-area Japanese Americans for the Chicago Day of Remembrance 2022 on Feb. 20, in observance of the 80th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry in detention camps throughout the United States during World War II.

The day will feature a variety of speakers discussing the passage of the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act, which was signed into law on July 9. Through it, Illinois became the first state to mandate the teaching of Asian American history in public schools.

It is organized by the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, Japanese American Citizens League Chicago chapter, the Japanese American Service Committee, and the Japanese Mutual Aid Society.

The in-person program will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St. Preregistration, masks and proof of vaccination are required. For details and to register, visit

Black arts

Side Street Studio Arts of Elgin will open its 2022 exhibition season with a show inspired by Black History Month titled “Black Spectrum: What I See, How I See it.”

The exhibit opened Friday and runs through Feb. 26, at the gallery, 15 Ziegler Court in downtown Elgin. It is free and open to the public and is supported, in part, by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council.

“Black Spectrum” was curated by Elgin artist and studio board President Freddrick Wimms with help from the studio's visual art Coordinator Chris Arrecis. It features the work of Curious Art Glass, Joshua Dixon, Chris Dylan, Bay Kennedy, Dan Nelson, Danielle Piloto, Yolanda Richards, Aybee Russell, Branstarr Sihanath, Kelly Swayne and J. Travis.

“Color isn't absolute; it is relative, it is subjective, and it is variable,” Wimms said. “My red is different from your red, but both are red. The same holds true of Black. It is a spectrum of stories, perspectives, ideas, histories, and experiences. This exhibition is about the art and how it communicates our perceptions of Black from individuals to individuals based on their specific personal experiences.”

Book reading

Veteran actor George Takei's memoir, “They Called Us Enemy,” is this year's selection for Batavia Public Library's One Book, One Batavia communitywide reading event.

In the graphic novel, Takei shares a firsthand account of his family's internment in a relocation center for Japanese Americans during World War II.

Takei is best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu on the iconic television and film series “Star Trek.” He is an advocate for social justice and human rights issues and served as cultural affairs chairman of the Japanese American Citizens League and is chairman emeritus and a trustee of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

Library patrons and Batavia High School students can borrow Takei's book through the Batavia Public Library.

The library will have six different One Book, One Batavia events during February and March, including a talk with the book's illustrator; a Batavia resident discussing her family's experience in an internment camp; a teen event for creating graphic novels; the basics of Zen meditation; and a session for learning strategies to challenge old and new stereotypes. Register for events at

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs legislation designating April as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month at the Palatine gurdwara. Pritzker also has proclaimed February Punjabi Language Month this year. Courtesy of Suresh Bodiwala
Rajinder Singh Mago, co-founder of the Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago in Palatine, waves an American flag during a parade down Devon Avenue in Chicago. Daily Herald File Photo, 2007
In this April 1942 photo made available by the Library of Congress, children at the Weill public school in San Francisco recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Associated Press
This March 23, 1942, file photo shows the first arrivals at the Japanese evacuee community established in Owens Valley in Manzanar, California. Associated Press
George Takei
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