Will Syrian refugees be coming to your neighbourhood? If so, how can you help? To find out, try asking your Toronto city councillor. For a list see, http://bit.ly/1BqeRYA, phone 311 or email: 311@Toronto.ca.
In Ward 13, Councillor Sarah Doucette just sent out a newsletter with a list of needs. If you and your friends can’t sponsor a family, the least you can do is give a donation or volunteer time to help newcomers in your neighbourhood. You might even go to a neighbourhood event to welcome them with an “as-salām ‘alaykum” (if they are Muslim) though some of them will speak English. If your councillor doesn’t have a list of projects such as the following, ask him or her for one.
To give you an idea of requests, here are excerpts from Sarah’s newsletter. She represents Parkdale-High Park.
…Here in our ward, a number of local churches, schools and groups of neighbours are fundraising and directly sponsoring refugees. These families will have urgent need for clothing, furniture and housewares. If you are part of a local group sponsoring a refugee and would like to have your organization added to our list, please send details to Councillor_Doucette@toronto.ca or call our office at (416) 392-4072.
Runnymede Community Church: Sponsoring a family and seeking financial contributions, donated materials, acclimatization support. Contact Church Administrator Linda Ruth Ciglen: 416-767-1401
Runnymede United Church: Sponsoring a family and seeking financial contributions, donated materials, acclimatization support.Contact Office Administrator Alison Gadsby: 416-767-6729
Windermere United Church (West End Refugee Partnership): Sponsoring a family in partnership with Roncesvalles, Western and Central United Churches, seeking financial contributions. Contact Martin Boyd, firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-763-5821
Donate online: www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/windermere-united-church
Humbercrest Public School: Ongoing coat drive. Drop off new or used winter coats to the school (14 Saint Marks Road) during school hours. Phone 416-394-2370 for more information.
Furniture Bank: provides gently-used household furnishings to individuals and families in need. For a small fee that helps to cover the pickup costs, Furniture Bank will come to your home and remove furniture and other household items that you no longer need. The charity has partnered with Lifeline Syria to help newcomer and refugee families address their immediate furniture needs. Schedule a furniture pick-up, online or call 416-934-1229, ext. 2.
Salvation Army Thrift Stores: All Salvation Army Thrift Stores gladly accept donations daily during store hours. Donors can drop off their gently-used clothing, shoes, used electronics, and a wide assortment of everyday household items directly in-store. After hours donations can be dropped at the donation centre offered by some Thrift Store locations. Their website includes details on where you can donate and a complete list of what they can and cannot accept. To arrange a donation pick-up, please call their toll-free donation line at 1-888-333-1229. There is a Salvation Army Thrift Store at 1219 Bloor St West, just east of Lansdowne Ave.
Other local and national organisations assisting refugees
Romero House: For decades, Romero House has provided transitional housing support for refugees in Toronto’s West End. For more information on Romero House programs and resources, visit: www.romerohouse.org
Lifeline Syria: A Toronto-based organization, Lifeline Syria will recruit, train and assist sponsor groups to welcome and support Syrian refugees coming to Canada to resettle in the GTA. To find out more or make a contribution: www.lifelinesyria.ca
Salvation Army: The Salvation Army has an ongoing appeal to assist Syrian refugees and are a member of Toronto’s Inter-Agency Task Force. Find out more at www.salvationarmy.ca
Until December 31, 2015, the Government of Canada will be matching donations made to registered Canadian charities with an equivalent contribution to the Syria Emergency Relief Fund. For more information on Canada’s refugee resettlement efforts or to find out how you can help sponsor a refugee family, visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website: http://bit.ly/1NAFlI7.
Ruth writes: don’t forget other groups in your neighbourhood have needs too.