“Let’s just put it this way, since the donations started coming in, me and my family have been here for two weeks trying to sort out all of the stuff. We have three rooms filled to the ceiling.”
That’s Simon Masoud, at Surrey’s Middle Eastern Friendship Centre.
“Today we had a five ton truck all the way from Washington come and drop off some stuff. There’s people everywhere. We just got a box from Arizona, another box from Ontario. People want to help out.”
He says a call for donations to incoming Syrian refugees has been so successful that the group has run out of space to store the goods.
They’re asking people to hold off on donations unless they’re non-perishable food, hygiene items, or gift cards that can be used to help with living expenses.
Masoud says they’re also looking for cash donations to help pay for somewhere to store all of the donations that have been pouring in, since the centre is packed.
But he says what they really need now are hands to help sort everything out.
“Just yesterday we had about 30-something people in here from the morning until about six o’clock just sorting… and it doesn’t even look like we did anything.”
The Friendship Centre isn’t the only one in Surrey looking for volunteers and cash.
Kassam says whether they’re government assisted refugees on social assistance, or privately sponsored refugees relying on local sponsors, there’s never really enough money to go around.
“We’re looking to create a fund where we can provide those most in need with the things that they are going to need the most. So things like, medical and dental supplies, toiletries, diapers, clothing, bus tickets. Things that are probably going to fall off the map. People are going to use their money for housing and for food.”
Kassam says the organization is also looking for help with housing or employment leads, and is looking for volunteers as well.