Torontonians brave the cold to fundraise for Syrian refugees
Dario Balca, CTV Toronto
Published Saturday, December 5, 2015 2:51PM EST
Members of a local community group will brave the cold on Saturday night as part of a fundraiser to help ease the burden on Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto.
On Dec. 5, about 75 people in the Danforth area will sleep outdoors as part of “Sleep out for Syrians.”
Organizer Sarah Brown of the Danforth East Community Association told CTV New Channel on Saturday that the idea for the fundraiser came after a “strong emotional response” to the death of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy whose image made global headlines after he drowned while crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe with his family.
“Since we saw the photo of three-year-old Alan Kurdi curled on a Turkish beach, as if he were napping, we’ve been researching what to do,” the group said on its website. “How can we help from so far away? Kurdi was just one of four million Syrians who have fled their country, since the revolution disintegrated into civil war 4.5 years ago.”
The choice to fundraise by sleeping in tents was inspired by the fact that most Syrians in refugee camps are also being housed in tents, Brown said.
The event will take place outside the Church of Resurrection, located at 1100 Woodbine Ave.
Sleep out for Syrians fundraiser had an initial $10,000 goal, but Brown said “the momentum’s been huge.” She said the group has exceeded its fundraising goal by $10,000 for a total of $20,000.
The support has encouraged more people to participate in the event, Brown said.
“The sleepers are energized by the ability of the community to mobilize so quickly,” she said. “Part of the effort is just people coming together and sharing stories of how they’re contributing.”
The money will help fund the efforts of the Neighbourhood Group, an organization that is trying to raise $120,000 to support Syrian families in their first year in Canada.
Donations can be made on the organization’s website.
After the event, Brown said the community association will start looking for other ways to help accommodate the refugees once they arrive.
On Saturday, Immigration Minister John McCallum said the first wave of Syrian refugees is expected to hit Canada around Dec. 10.