Toronto school challenges others to sponsor Syrian refugees
Dubbed the '1000 Schools Challenge,' a group of parent volunteers at Dewson Street Junior Public School in Toronto is calling on other schools to raise money to help bring Syrian refugee families to Canada.
Published Sunday, November 22, 2015 10:22PM EST
A Toronto school's effort to privately sponsor Syrian refugees is encouraging other schools across Canada to follow in its lead.
Dubbed the "1000 Schools Challenge," a group of parent volunteers at Dewson Street Junior Public School in Toronto is calling on other schools to raise money to help bring Syrian refugee families to Canada.
The Dewson group began fundraising in September. So far, at least a dozen other schools have taken up their challenge, including the Palmerston Avenue Junior Public School in Toronto.
The downtown school has raised about $40,000 in just a couple of weeks – more than enough money to help a family of four resettle in Canada. Now, they are hoping to raise enough funds to bring a family of six to the country.
"It's obvious when you look at the news and you just feel compelled to do something," Monica Gupta, a member of the Palmerston Welcomes Refugees Committee, told CTV Toronto.
Gupta and a group of other volunteers met up at a Bloor Street café on Sunday to discuss the details of their fundraising efforts.
"Our priority is to bring them here as soon as possible but we want to plan and make sure that it's done right and it's going to meet their needs," said Sajedeh Zahraeim, another volunteer.
On Tuesday, the Liberal government will reveal its plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the end of the year. Ontario has also pledged to take in 10,000 refugees by the end of 2016. But private-sponsorship groups like the Dewson and Palmerston organizations are hoping to bring in families before those dates.
The Dewson group said they are expecting to welcome a family of five in a couple of weeks. On Sunday, they met up to go over some final details ahead of the family's arrival.
"We've got all the different pieces of helping someone get settled in Canada, from finding them an apartment, thinking about how to furnish the apartment with good quality, clean stuff that will probably have to last them a long time," said Dewson volunteer Kelly Gallagher-Mackay.
"We’re also looking at clothing, winter clothing if they are going to arrive in December in Toronto, and just sort of the range of practical things."
According to the 1000 Schools Challenge website, it takes about $30,000 to sponsor a family of four. That estimated cost includes a living allowance for 12 months based on provincial social assistance rates.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Scott Lightfoot