The Lebanese Student Federation is collecting clothing items to send back to Lebanon to help those affected by recent explosions in Beirut.
The group says they will be collecting donations for disaster relief at Dorchester Square downtown Montreal twice a day from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. and 2 p.m.-6 p.m. until Tuesday.
“All the donations are going to accredited official non-governmental associations and originations — nothing is going to the government. We are trying to help NGO’s on the field,” says Karim AbouNader, Federation member.
The students collectively agreed that with winter coming, the thousands displaced by the explosions will lack clothing and resources to buy items, so clothing is the best option to send back to Lebanon.
“As students who had the opportunity to leave Lebanon and come study here, we feel like we have to help after what happened,” AbouNader said.
A pair of explosions erupted in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday night, creating a wave of destruction that has so far claimed more than 150 lives and injured thousands more.
The exact cause of the explosions is still undetermined, but officials believe the larger blast was caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material that had been stored at the port for the last six years.
Some members of the federation still have missing family members.
“I grew up in Beirut. The first thing that came to my head was ‘are my family and friends OK?’ Sadly one of my cousins is missing. Three days later, we still don’t know anything about him,” said Fatima Hoteit.
The Beirut explosions have the student federation’s president looking for more ways to help her country in their time of need.
“What would you do if your family was 10,000 kilometers away. You cannot do anything about it, you can’t hug them, you can’t even travel. You can’t even talk to them all day long and make sure they’re OK. They are living in destroyed streets, a destroyed country,” Christelle El-Haddad, told Global News.
The Lebanese student federation helps students from Lebanon get financial assistance.
After the explosion, the task is harder.
“They don’t have any financial aid there. They don’t have any more access to money in Lebanon, the first time is getting this clothing back to Lebanon and then we are looking into more ways to support the students, like we have always done,” said El-Haddad.
This is the first clothing drive hosted by the federation but they say it might not be the last.
“This is kind of a test, if it goes well then we will host more. We are also going to have to figure out how to get these items back to Lebanon — it’s our main task. If anyone is going to Lebanon contact us,” El-Haddad said.
Montrealers are showing their support by donating clothing in large amounts. Several who spoke with Global News said y they could not pass up the opportunity to help. Many also said they had done spring-cleaning and were looking for somewhere to donate clothing.
“Part of my family is Middle Eastern and we wanted to help the Lebanese community. When we saw the post on Instagram today, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to donate,” said Sabrina Salabi from Montreal.
Quebec’s government is pledging $1,000,000 for disaster relief. The Canadian government has said it will provide $5,000,000. On Saturday, the federal government announced it will match all individual donations from Canadians to humanitarian relief efforts in Lebanon, in addition to the many organizations and communities across the country banding together to play their part in Beirut’s recovery.