A refugee family from Syria could be in Antigonish, N.S., by Christmas after a small group of volunteers received a flood of donations over the weekend.

In May, the team formed an organization called SAFE (Syrian-Antigonish Families Embrace). Their goal was to fundraise in hopes of bringing a family next spring.

But all of that changed last week, when the crisis in Syria dominated the headlines.

"It's unfortunate the circumstances that made the issue the forefront in people's minds," said Tanya Felix, one of the founders of the group. "For SAFE we saw a big bump of activity. "

The group asked businesses and families to post photos of themselves online holding signs that say "refugees welcome". Many photos were posted on their Facebook page, and as awareness grew, so did the donations.

Tuesday morning they reached their first milestone of raising $10,000.

That allows the group to officially choose a family and begin the paperwork to bring them to Canada. Felix says it will only be a matter of months.

Paying it forward

For SAFE member Annie Chau, this project is personal.

"My family came to Canada in 1979," she said. "They were refugees from Vietnam. They were boat people"

Chau was then born and raised in Canada. She says her family is grateful for the opportunity they were given.

"For me it's kind of trying to return back the favour."

Chau is now hopeful they'll be able to bring more families to the area in the future, but their work on the first is far from over. SAFE estimates they'll need to raise at least $17,000 in the next few months to help their first family.

Felix, who works as an immigrant support worker, says the family will also need language and other emotional supports when they arrive.