Fundraiser at local diner collects $20K for Syrian refugees

All of the tips gathered by severs at Edmonton's Highlevel Diner Saturday will be pooled to sponsor a Syrian family to come to Canada. Dave Carels, Global News

EDMONTON – A fundraiser at a local diner has raised $20,000 for Syrian refugees.

Last Saturday, the staff of Edmonton’s Highlevel Diner donated all the money they received in tips to help sponsor a family of Syrian refugees. The restaurant’s owners matched the tips, dollar-for-dollar.

“We know something needs to be done,” said Kim Franklin, one of the diner’s five owners.

READ MORE: Edmonton diner servers donate tips to sponsor Syrian family 

Franklin is part of a local group called Bayt Al’ Amal. The name means “House of Hope” in Arabic. It’s one of several groups working with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton and St. Joseph’s College to sponsor Syrian families.

It costs about $35,000 to $40,000 to sponsor a Syrian family of four for one year. The tip drive, by itself, raised enough to support a family for six months, but the minimum term for sponsorships is one year.

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“That’s nice, it’s a good step forward, but that’s not enough right now,” said Franklin.

WATCH: Local church fundraising to bring Syrian refugees to Edmonton 

While the Highlevel Diner fundraiser did not raise the necessary funds by itself, other groups are helping out.

In the past year, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese and St. Joseph’s College have added sponsorship for 116 Syrian refugees. Fifteen have already arrived in Alberta.

“We’re just waiting for immigration officials to cross the Ts and dot the Is,” said the Archdiocese’ Lorraine Torchansky.

While people are now coming in, Highlevel Diner and Bayt Al’ Amal will keep working. They’re planning more events for later this year.

WATCH: Edmonton organizations help Syrian refugees

Many of the people involved with the fundraising at Highlevel Diner have worked with refugees before. Some even worked with the waves of Vietnamese and Guatemalan refugees that came to Canada in the late 1970s and early 1980s. One of the Highlevel Diner’s owners was a refugee from Vietnam.

Franklin remains hopeful that Bayt Al’ Amal will be able to help more refugees soon.

“People are the same everywhere. They have aspirations for the future. They want better lives for their children.”

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Franklin is also pleased with the volunteer effort she’s seen from the community during their fundraising.

“Some people have money to donate. Some people don’t have money to donate. They donate their time.”

The Highlevel Diner will be on Global Edmonton’s Weekend Morning News on Saturday, Nov. 7.

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