HALIFAX – Tuesday evening from 4 to 8 p.m. is the last change for Haligonians to donate to the Refugee Donations Drop-off Centre in Bayers Lake.
The centre is closing four weeks early after what the provincial government called “overwhelming generosity” from Nova Scotians. The warehouse, donated by Armco and Rank, was formerly a RONA store and was sitting empty.
As of Tuesday morning, the centre had already received thousands of donations. “The centre has received 4,000 bags of clothing, 1,500 jackets, 75 high chairs and strollers, and hundreds of pieces of furniture and household items,” Government Spokesperson Andrew Preeper said in an email.
People who would still like to drop off items on the centre’s last day are asked to bring winter outerwear, baby gear, personal hygiene products, and furniture such as tables and chairs.
The donations will first go to government sponsored refugees, any extras will be distributed to privately sponsored refugees across the province.
Need for help continues after drop-off centre closes
Organizations like the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) will continue to accept cash donations, gift cards and volunteers after the centre closes.
“There’s this initial wave of work but people are going to be with us forever,” Gerry Mills, ISANS director of operations said.
“So for the next year or two, people still need support and so we will need volunteers for that.”
There are still other ways Nova Scotians can work to make refugees feel welcome, Mills said. For example, learning simple greetings in Arabic and learning the new refugee’s names makes a big difference when adjusting to a new life.
“People have a role to play, everybody has a role to play in the community,” Mills said.
First wave of refugees to Nova Scotia already here
At least 100 Syrian Refugees have arrived in Nova Scotia since November. Fifty-three of them are government sponsored refugees and 47 of them are privately sponsored. The province says its ready to accept up to 1,500 refugees from Syria.
The number of Syrian refugees coming to Nova Scotia is sharply up from the first half of the year. From January to September the province welcomed 11 refugees, since then the number of refugees has increased ten-fold.
ISANS estimates there are 110 groups in Nova Scotia hoping to privately sponsor Syrian Refugee families.