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Refugee drive gets closer to goal

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Over the past week, donations to the “Families for Families” refugee family fundraiser have continued to pour in, with the tally jumping from $16,000 to $28,000.

“It’s so great to see,” enthused committee chair Kathy Mueller, noting they’re well on their way to the $35,000 goal.

Mueller was pleased with the support from the Zion Lutheran Church here, which hosted a “Baron of Beef” fundraising dinner for the cause Friday evening.

The meal was prepared by Todd Moxham, and saw much of the food donated in order to maximize the funds going to the initiative.

“It was just wonderful,” Mueller remarked.

But she added no other fundraisers are planned at this time.

“We’re just going to rely right now on donations coming in because everybody is busy as Christmas gets closer,” she explained.

However, Mueller hopes people continue to contribute to the “Families for Families” drive.

“If people want to contribute—don’t wait,” she urged. “It’s time.”

Mueller noted a number of people have indicated that they are planning to donate, but haven’t done so yet.

She added some groups likely are waiting until they have collected $1,000.

“If they already have an amount, just send it in,” Mueller stressed. “We might have enough without them raising the larger amount.

“Every little bit helps.”

Mueller stepped forward with the idea to help families in the war zone in the Middle East after everything she heard on the news.

Since local residents are so good about helping people within our communities and supporting those in need, she thought perhaps the district could open its arms to helping another family.

Her idea was solidified when about 20 people turned out to a meeting held Oct. 15 to strike a committee—a necessary step to support the application to sponsor a family.

Mueller is chairing the committee which, in order to expedite the sponsorship process, is operating under the D.O.O.R.s to New Life Refugee Services run by the Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay.

She said it costs about $7,000 per person. So for a family of five, it would be $35,000.

And the committee is hoping to raise that amount by Christmas Eve.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to reach our goal and then be able to give a Syrian or Iraqi family an amazing Christmas present—a chance for a new life,” Mueller remarked.

In fact, she noted a family already has been assigned to Rainy River District and she expects to know more about them later this week.

So far, Mueller knows they’re a Christian family currently are living in a refugee camp.

“So as long as everything goes through, they will be able to come,” she said, though adding she hopes none of the recent “commotion” has caused any difficulties in the process.

“We just need everybody who is thinking about contributing to just do it,” she reiterated.

In addition to raising the funds, Mueller noted the community also must assist the family during their initial year in Canada.

“The sponsorship group prepares a home [or apartment], complete with necessary furnishings, appliances, utensils, cleaning supplies, clothing, and food,” she explained.

She indicated the family also will need help applying for government documentation, finding a job, registering children in schools, getting to know the community services, finding a doctor and dentist, getting help with improving their English (if necessary), and connecting them with people with common interests.

“It is the hope of the committee that our community make this sponsorship possible, and then help the refugee family in its transition to regain a sense of belonging and safety and give all family members a chance for a brighter future,” Mueller said.

She’s thrilled with how supportive the community has been so far.

“We’re just rejoicing in the fact that we have $28,000 and we’re getting near our goal,” she enthused.

“We’re very happy that people have been supporting us.”

Donations can be dropped off at the CIBC here in Fort Frances or brought to St. Mary’s Church on Monday to Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

E-transfers also can be made to stmarys@jam21.net

Charitable tax receipts will be issued for donations of $20 or more.

Make cheques payable to St. Mary’s Church, with “Families for Families” on the memo line.

For more information, call Mueller at 274-0583.

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