Fruiticana owner Tony Singh donates fruit baskets to Syrian refugees

Surrey businessman Tony Singh wants Syrian refugees to feel the same warm welcome he received when he arrived in Canada as a 10-year-old boy in 1975.

Surrey business owner inspired by a simple welcoming gesture when he was 10

Fruiticana founder and president Tony Singh says the refugees he met on Thursday remind of him of when he first came to Canada. (CBC)

Surrey businessman Tony Singh wants Syrian refugees to feel the same warm welcome he received when he arrived in Canada as a 10-year-old boy in 1975.

"Our neighbour invited us over for dinner," Singh said.

"The simple gesture had such a profound impact on me and my life. It showed me what it means to be Canadian. I wanted to pass on that same special feeling to these Syrian refugees arriving in Canada."

Singh, the founder and president of Fruiticana, spent the afternoon handing out grocery bags full of food to Canadian newcomers in Surrey.

"I became a successful businessperson and Canadian because of a simple and powerful message," he said.

"I'm sure many of these refugees, especially the children, will go on to make many positive contributions to Canada in the future."

Donations Needed

The items in the grocery bags have been carefully selected with the help of the Muslim Food Bank.

"From a cultural sensitivity perspective, what we try to do is give the refugees foods that they would typically eat in their home country," said director Mainu Ahmed.

Fruiticana works with the Muslim Food Bank to make sure the items in the grocery bag are culturally and religiously appropriate. (CBC)

"Yogurt is quite big in their diet. Olives. Pita bread. And because many of them are Muslim, we try to make sure, from the religious perspective, that there is no pork in the packages."

The MFB, which serves about 450 families throughout Metro Vancouver, is in dire need of donations and volunteers.

Ahmed hopes today's event will encourage others to think about giving.

"We also do a range of services for the new refugees, and the initial food basket is only the beginning," he said.

"We also ensure when they arrive that they have basic toiletries so they don't have to get out to shops where they don't speak the language and aren't familiar with the surroundings."

About the Author

Jesse Johnston

Jesse Johnston covers stories South of the Fraser. Catch him on The Early Edition every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. @Jesse_Johnston

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