6 ways you can help Syrian refugees settle in Toronto

Syrian refugees arrive aboard a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to the island of Lesbos, Greece, in this Sept. 10, 2015 file photo.
Syrian refugees arrive aboard a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to the island of Lesbos, Greece, in this Sept. 10, 2015 file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Petros Giannakouris, File

TORONTO – Canada plans to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees in the next few months, and as many as 2,500 may settle in Toronto itself.

The logistics and expenses of the resettlement can be staggering, but charity agencies are offering myriad ways to help ease the burden on new arrivals. Here are six ways you can contribute.

Sleep out for Syrians

The Danforth East Community Association and is urging locals to brave the cold and Sleep Out for Syrians in a tent city of sorts on Saturday, Dec. 5.

Each tent has a fundraising goal of $250 and the group hopes to raise $10,000 to sponsor two Syrian refugee families.

Those not interested in a potentially frigid sleepover can sponsor other campers or attend a pre-campout party including dinner and live music with a suggested donation of $20.

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Furniture Bank

This charity organization is encouraging Torontonians to take advantage of Giving Tuesday, the fledgling online movement to make Dec. 1st a day of charity after the all-out consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The Furniture Bank accepts gently used furniture to outfit homes for the city’s new arrivals. Since 2010, the charity estimates it’s served more than 7,000 immigrant families who’ve settled in the area.

READ MORE: Ontario businessman sponsoring 50 Syrian refugee families

If you don’t have any furniture to give away, the outfit accepts cash donations as well. It says $50 can provide a bed for one person while a $250 donation can furnish an entire house.

Winter clothing and kitchen goods

Refugees from warmer climes will likely arrive woefully unprepared for Canadian winters; so coats, gloves, hats and winter footwear are welcome donation items.

Cutlery, pots, pans and other kitchen utensils are indispensible and often expensive additions to a new home. Many local charities and sponsor agencies will happily accept kitchenware donations.

Check the Government of Canada website to help find local agencies accepting donations.

Lifeline Syria

For those willing to go the extra mile, Lifeline Syria is recruiting, training and assisting sponsors who will volunteer their time to help settle and acclimate a refugee family.

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Sponsorship can include a wide range of responsibilities, including

  • Assistance in finding housing;
  • Ensuring household costs are covered;
  • Help family members find employment or training;
  • Ensuring children are registered in school and adults have access to ESL;
  • General orientation around the city, including transit and other vital facilities.

Lifeline Syria is also holding a literary fundraiser on Dec. 4 at Friends House on Lowther Avenue. Jackleen Salam, a Syrian poet who emigrated to Canada in 1997 headlines the event, which features other poets, musicians and actors performing related to themes of home and exile.

Project Hope

This resettlement program run by the Archdiocese of Toronto is aiming to raise $3 million and settle 100 refugee families within the GTA “as soon as possible,” according to the project’s website.

The project isn’t limited to Syrian refugees, instead accepting anyone fleeing war and violence “in areas of greatest need” regardless of religious affiliation.

Project Hope is accepting financial donations and seeking volunteers to help settle families, similar to some duties asked of Lifeline Syria sponsors.

Sings for Syria

Musical ensemble Choir!Choir!Choir! is holding Sings for Syria fundraising event next week to help raise  $30,000 for the Ryerson Lifeline Syria Challenge.

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The group will perform John Lennon’s Imagine with its own original arrangement, and invite anyone in the audience to sing along. You can come raise your voice at Lee’s Palace on Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

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