Recent university grads raise money to sponsor Syrian couple
EDMONTON – A group of young professionals are hopeful a cake fundraiser will help take them one step closer to bringing a Syrian couple to Edmonton.
Sahil Gupta, Kenzie Gordon and Sean Groten are three friends from university; Gordon and Groten are married. The trio, along with three others, are raising money to privately sponsor a couple from Syria.
“Personally I wanted to sponsor a family for a long time. We’re all young professionals. We just got out of school. We decided we were all now in a financial position where we’re able to do it,” said Gordon.
“We’re really committed to social justice and trying to make our community a better place. We thought this is something pretty simple we can do to really have an immediate impact on some people’s lives.”
The group submitted their application in September and it was accepted in November. Though there is no official timeline, they are hopeful the couple will arrive in the first few months of the new year.
However, the expense of bringing a couple to Canada is roughly $22,000 and the group is only a quarter of the way there, which is why they held a fundraiser called Cake for Refugees on Saturday.
A variety of homemade cakes were made and brought to the McKernan Community Lounge for an afternoon fundraiser.
“[The refugee crisis is] one of the big crises of our time right now,” said Amy Sanderson, who made several cakes for the event.
“It feels like it’s such a big issue that maybe there’s nothing we can do. But I think every little thing helps. This is our small way of allowing our community to donate some money.”
Cake slices were sold for $10 each and cups of tea and coffee were being sold for two dollars. The group hoped to raise $2,000 during Sunday’s event.
Gupta said the decision to privately sponsor a couple and bring them to Edmonton has been a long time coming.
“We’re fortunate enough to have the resources and our friends felt we could support a family,” he said.
“Obviously there’s lots of need, lots of displaced people from Syria currently and this is just one small contribution to that.”
Groten said friends and family have been chipping in to help make the transition easy for the couple, who are currently in Lebanon waiting to make their way to Edmonton.
“We found a place where the couple is going to live. People came and they donated couches. They donated furniture they didn’t need,” he said.
“It’s just going to be a matter of how do we incorporate them with skills they’re coming with, how do we integrate them into the community and show they can be productive members of society as well.”
The group may be made up of young professionals, but Groten said he thinks that can send a strong message.
“Global citizenship is becoming a thing that matters to people, whether it’s 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds or 40-year-olds. I think we’re just a small group that shows what it can be like to be a global citizen.”
The first wave of refugees to arrive in Edmonton landed earlier this month.