Volunteers sorted through a mountain of donations at the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society on Tuesday, all of it destined to help Syrian refugees settle in.
“You can’t help but feel for the people who are coming here with nothing, so you do what you can,” said volunteer Paul Riopel, helping unload bags of clothing at the 10255 104 St. building.
The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers and the Islamic Family Social Services Association (IFSSA) — both working to help settle Syrian refugees — partnered with the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society after being inundated with donations of clothing, toys and household items.
“A house doesn’t feel like a home until you have all of the essentials,” said Radwan Mohamed, a spokesperson for IFSAA, adding the items are essential for refugees who had to leave everything behind as they fled their homes.
“Edmonton’s generosity has been overwhelming, as you can see,” said Mohamed, gesturing to a pile of household items nearly two metres tall. “We are so grateful for it.”
While the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers and IFSSA have been collecting the donations on behalf of refugees, their partnership with the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society will ensure anyone in Edmonton in need will have access to the essentials.
“We are here to help as many and every individual that comes through our door in need of help,” said Nicole Geoffroy, a spokesperson with Emergency Relief Services, adding the organization is still in need of clothing, toys, toiletries and gently used kitchen items and furniture.
Donations can be dropped off at the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, 11713 82 St.; at IFSSA, 4003 98 St.; or at Emergency Relief Services Society, 10255 104 St. Free pick up is available from the Society for large furniture items, and can be arranged by calling 780-428-4422.
On Monday night, the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers and IFSSA welcomed 15 newly arrived Syrian refugee families with their hosts at the Parkdale-Cromdale community league.
The event featured a Syrian dinner and free family portraits while introducing the newcomers to programs and services available to help them establish themselves in Edmonton.