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Danielle Létourneau asking for 25,000 knitted tuques for the Syrian migrants

Montrealers asked to donate winter clothes for Syrian refugees

Published on: November 23, 2015 | Last Updated: November 25, 2015 5:39 PM EST
Danielle Letourneau Zoomba

Danielle Létourneau

With refugees from Syria expected to start arriving in Canada by the planeload shortly, there is a need to make sure they have proper clothing to handle our frigid winters.

Quebec author and actress Danielle Létourneau, better known as Zoomba, has launched a Facebook initiative asking for 25,000 knitted tuques for the refugees.

Tuques can be dropped off at the McCord Museum on Sherbrooke St. in Montreal, or the Musée de la civilization in Quebec City.

For more info, visit https://www.facebook.com/25000tuques/

Several other organizations in Montreal are teaming up to collect donations of winter gear.

The Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Asylum Seekers (PRAIDA) — part of the west-central Montreal health and social services agency — and the YMCA Residence will be collecting donations during the next two weeks.

There is a need for coats, sweaters, pants, boots, tuques and gloves for adults and children.

Donations can be made on Wednesday, Dec. 2, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the main entrance of the CLSC Côte-des-Neiges (5700 Côte-des-Neiges St.).

Human Concern International is organizing a clothing drive for Syria.

The public is asked to donate new and used clothing, shoes, towels, sheets and even toys at one of the many HCI depots across the city.

Other ways to help:

Provide a home: Syrian refugees will need temporary housing — and then permanent homes. Lida Aghasi, the director of the Centre social d’aide aux immigrants (CSAI), is compiling a list of potential housing, which now includes a convent in Pointe-Claire, a CEGEP in Rosemont and a growing number of landlords with vacant apartments. Anyone with a room or an apartment can email CSAI at benevolat@centrecsai.org or call 514 932-2953.

Volunteer: Organizations in Montreal are already putting together lists of volunteers, especially those who speak Arabic and have experience working with refugees (or are going through the integration process themselves). Email infoparrainage@tcri.qc.ca.

The UNHCR suggests people who want to help should volunteer their skills: Can you teach French or English? In Hungary, a hairdresser offered free haircuts to refugee kids at the main train station, while a football coach in Italy started a team for refugees and migrants.

Aghasi says they will also need people, as well as vans or trucks, to help move families of refugees, once they find permanent homes.

Sponsor:  Above and beyond the thousands of refugees the federal government plans to bring to Canada, Canadians are privately sponsoring refugees, and so can you. Groups of two to five people can ask to collectively sponsor a refugee, which would entail paying for their expenses over a year, for housing, clothing, food and furniture, for a sum of about $12,00o for an adult and $21,000 for a family of four.

Individuals can also partner with religious institutions — the neighbourhood church, synagogue or mosque — who, like some NGOs, may have pre-existing arrangements with the federal government that make it easier to sponsor refugees.

For more information on sponsorship and a list of religious and other organizations that can help, including by matching you to Syrian refugees awaiting sponsors, go to the Immigration Québec website.

The Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI), an umbrella group for 140 community organizations, is compiling a central list of available housing, people who want to volunteer or sponsor, and donations in kind. Email them at infoparrainage@tcri.qc.ca

Donate money: The Red Cross, Oxfam Quebec, Care and other organizations have launched an appeal for donations to help Syrian refugees in the Middle East and Europe. Until Dec. 31, the Canadian government will match donations by individuals, up to $100 million.

The United Nations World Food Programme also launched an app last week — “ShareTheMeal” — to pay for meals for Syrian children living in refugee camps in Jordan. From your mobile phone, you can donate for one meal ($0.50) or to feed a child for a week or more. So far, some 1.7 million meals have been provided through the app.

Zumba fundraiser: Local Zumba dance instructors will hold a Zumbathon fundraiser for the refugees on Dec. 20 (1-3 p.m.) at La Suite Royale, 7474 St-Hubert St.

All profits from this event will go to Opération “Paniers de Bienvenue” to prepare welcome baskets for the refugees.

Ticket are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. To purchase tickets online, go to  http://zumbathon-paniers-bienvenue.eventbrite.ca  For more info on Opération Paniers de bienvenue, visit their Facebook page.

With files from Catherine Solyom of the Montreal Gazette

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