Syrian refugees in Spryfield receive donated furniture, clothing
A group that gathered furniture for families in Dartmouth is now assisting 15 other families
A group of volunteers spent much of Easter weekend rounding up donations to help a group of Syrian refugee families living in Spryfield.
Organizer Cheryl Oake says they hope to provide about 15 families with furniture and household supplies.
Oake previously helped organize a furniture drive for Syrian refugees living in Dartmouth after she discovered one family's apartment was all but empty.
Through that process, they connected with another group of government-sponsored refugees, many of whom still need basic household items.
While many privately sponsored refugees arrive to homes furnished by community groups, government-sponsored refugees face a different set of circumstances.
Government-sponsored refugees get $620 per month for rent — the same amount as people living on social assistance — regardless of how big a family is. Each adult also gets $238 per month for food and goods and children qualify for a tax benefit, about $350 per month.
Oake says they were able to fully equip four families with all the donations collected from people who read and shared a Facebook post two weeks ago.
She says she was flooded with hundreds of offers to help, so to organize the donation process she's created a group to help, "NS Welcomes Syrian Refugees," as well as a GoFundMe page.
This weekend, six volunteers rented a truck and shuttled furniture to the new arrivals.
Oake estimates 10 of the families now have big items such as beds, sofas, tables and chairs. Because many of them are large families, chairs are one of the hottest commodities.
Paying it forward
One of the men whom they initially helped was part of the group that picked up and delivered furniture.
"He has worked tirelessly helping, load and unload trucks, moving furniture into the homes. It's really cool to see him paying back and paying forward what's been done for him. He was really excited to help," Oake said.
Oake says she, in turn, has been overwhelmed with the generosity of the people they're been gathering donations for.
"They want to give you tea, they want to give you coffee, they want to feed you. I've had some beautiful meals," she said.
"These people [have] nothing to give, yet they cooked this amazing meal for us. That was really nice."
Oake says there will be another pick-up and drop off day next Saturday, in hopes of rounding up enough big items for the remaining families.
Her group of friends have pledged to continue helping the families they've connected with in Dartmouth over the next few months and she hopes others will offer to do the same for the people living in Spryfield.