A little bit of good is being done for the incoming Syrian refugees in Vancouver, thanks to one of the city’s biggest real estate developers.
Last week Westbank put out a call to the community to help collect food, clothing, toys and other items some of the 3,000 refugees entering B.C. by February may need. The response was overwhelming.
About 11,000 kilograms of donated items, including 6,000 kilograms of clothing, were picked up by Westbank volunteers on Sunday from various drop-off points around Metro Vancouver, filling 30 trucks. There was so much donated that they had to store it all on a floor in the TELUS Garden building, taking about half the space, or 465 square metres.
Among the items were non-perishable food, clothing and plenty of winter clothing, toiletries, toys, household items and furniture.
“An elderly couple from Sechelt had heard about it in the news, then saw the event online and started gathering everything they could,” said one of Westbank’s volunteers. “Most heartwarming part was her mother had recently passed and she hadn’t been able to bring herself to get rid of all her mother’s things. But when she saw this event, thought it was the perfect way to put all the items to good use and help a multitude of families. They had a full SUV of bags, boxes and furniture.”
Another person donated a large bag full of scarves and hats she had knit specially for the refugees.
This is the second major action taken by Westbank to help the Syrian refugees. In November, owner Ian Gillespie promised 12 apartment units to refugees to help them settle in Vancouver.
The apartment units will be fully furnished and will be used as temporary two week accommodation until the refugees find permanent housing, at which time another batch will arrive. Gillespie says the apartments will be available for a minimum of four months.
Spott Shaw University is also aiding refugees by offering 13 scholarships of up to $20,000 to incoming Syrians, helping them enter B.C.’s workforce in high-demand jobs.