Kaitlyn Borchers of Red Deer is on a mission to help Syrian refugees coming to Central Alberta and will be filling shoeboxes with items for for them when they arrive.

Shoebox campaign aims to give refugee children a chance to be children

Fourteen-year-old Kaitlyn Borchers wants to help Syrian child refugees reclaim their childhoods in Red Deer.

Fourteen-year-old Kaitlyn Borchers wants to help Syrian child refugees reclaim their childhoods in Red Deer.

The Grade 9 student at St. Francis of Assisi School has launched a campaign to fill shoe boxes with toys and personal effects for the Syrian children being resettled here.

Given the televised images she’s seen of serious-looking kids in refugee camps, Borchers is hoping to lighten their outlook with a fun welcome-to-Red Deer gift.

“I want them to have an opportunity to just be children,” she explained.

Several shoe companies are turning over empty boxes to her Operation Welcome to Canada campaign. And these are being filled by Borchers, her classmates, as well as students at four other Red Deer Catholic schools, with small items, including toys, scarves, tuques, and arts and craft supplies.

Borchers, whose mother works with English as a Second Language students, had helped fill charitable shoe boxes for African children in need, and thought “this would be a good idea to do here.”

She ran her idea by a couple of workers for Catholic Social Services, the agency that’s resettling Syrian families in Red Deer, and was told it was a worthwhile venture.

“It’s always nice to have toys for the children,” said Remza Mujezinovic, program supervisor for Catholic Social Services. “We feel it’s a great idea, if there’s a little something for the kids…”

So far, 13 Syrian families have arrived in Red Deer and more are expected. Their children range from babies to 18-year-olds.

There’s been an outpouring of calls from people asking what they can do to assist Syrian newcomers. Mujezinovic’s agency has been accepting donations of household items — but not clothing — in a limited storage space. Donated bedding, dishes, pots, pans and cleaning supplies are being distributed to Red Deer’s newest citizens.

Although toys are not among the items the agency is accepting directly, Mujezinovic said she’s glad that young people in Red Deer are thinking of others and taking on the shoebox project to help welcome incoming Syrian children and youths.

Borchers’ Operation Welcome to Canada charity is also accepting cheques from donors. For more information, or to donate, please visit www.rdcrs.ca/schools/our-schools. Borchers can be emailed at opwelcome2can@gmail.com.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Alberta’s biathlon women sweep the podium

Alberta biathletes take four medals, including silver in men’s race, on Sunday

Red Deer songwriter draws on winter, childhood to write Games closing ceremonies song

Kayla Williams is excited to perform ‘Something Right’ March 2 at the Centrium.

House in Calgary destroyed in fire following apparent explosion, officials say

CALGARY — A house was destroyed when a fire broke out following… Continue reading

Historic win for Team Nunavut at Canada Winter Games

Four years in the making boiled down to a collection of firsts… Continue reading

Historic win for Team Nunavut at Canada Winter Games

Four years in the making boiled down to a collection of firsts… Continue reading

Chicago police: Jussie Smollett assault case has ‘shifted’

Chicago police said Saturday the investigation into the assault reported by Jussie… Continue reading

Still-active human rights case speaks to lasting homophobia in Canada: activists

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Just over 14 years ago, the government of… Continue reading

Alberta missionaries among the Canadians heading home from riot-stricken Haiti

MONTREAL — A Canadian couple who had to leave Haiti due to… Continue reading

Man charged in daughter’s death in hospital with self-inflicted gunshot wound: police

Police say a man charged with first-degree murder in the death of… Continue reading

Cabinet expected to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

OTTAWA — Canada’s energy regulator will tell the federal government this week… Continue reading

South African activists try to protect endangered pangolins

JOHANNESBURG — As World Pangolin Day is marked around the globe, Saturday,… Continue reading

Fourteen ‘dream’ homes ordered evacuated as sinkholes open in Sechelt, B.C.

Greg and Gerry Latham spent Friday morning scrambling to pack up family… Continue reading

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual assault: British newspaper

LONDON — A British newspaper says police in London are investigating an… Continue reading

Most Read