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Refugee fundraiser tops $60,000

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The “Families for Families” fundraiser, which wrapped up on Christmas Eve, well surpassed its goal—raising $60,307 to bring a refugee family to Fort Frances.

“We have had such a wonderful, wonderful response from the community,” enthused committee chair Kathy Mueller, noting the group originally had hoped to raise $35,000—enough to bring in a five-member family.

The fundraiser began back in October and had reached its goal by the end of November.

But the committee opted to keep the campaign going to raise additional funds to help the family—or, if it gathered a significant amount more, look at bringing in a second, smaller family.

“We will have a meeting with all of the members of our committee in January and we will decide how to best use all that money,” said Mueller, noting they’ll discuss the prospect of hosting another family.

For the initial family the group will be sponsoring, Mueller noted the paperwork on their end all has been submitted and now is in the federal government’s hands.

With additional funds, the local committee has been assigned a family of six members—a father, a mother, a 16-year-old daughter, a 15-year-old son, an eight-year-old son, and a three-year-old son.

They are an Iraqi Christian family currently living in a refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon.

Mueller said the application now will go through a screening process in Winnipeg to make sure the community is capable of sponsoring the family and that they truly are in need of refuge.

“Once that is established, it goes back to Lebanon and then they have their screening and medicals there, and then the government organizes their flight and everything to come here,” she explained.

It’s a long process that’s expected to take about four-six months.

“The government is trying to expedite the process, but it will probably take a minimum of four months,” conceded Mueller, adding they’re hopeful it won’t take any longer than six months.

“So right now we are just waiting to see what happens,” she remarked, adding the committee soon will begin gathering items for the family.

But they don’t want to get too far ahead of themselves yet.

“We have to figure out what we need,” Mueller reasoned.

She said they already have had some donations of furniture, but are going to wait to collect other items.

“But it’s certainly something people can start thinking about,” Mueller noted.

“We will be letting people know in the near future.”

In the meantime, Mueller said she’s thrilled by the support of the community.

“People always rise to the occasion when there is a need,” she enthused.

“And I just think it is such a good community in that way—we’re compassionate, we care about people, and we help people.”

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