The community of Lacombe has gone from thinking about sponsoring Syrian refugees about a month ago to now in full preparation mode before a family of seven arrives.
Betty Cruickshank, a member of the recently formed Lacombe Community Refugee Effort, said Monday that the family, now in Lebanon, includes young parents with five children between the ages of one and 10. The youngest was born in Lebanon.
Cruickshank said the idea to privately sponsor Syrian refugees started out small with a couple of churches before Christmas but has grown to include many other people and organizations in the community that want to help.
They already have a house that will be rented for the family, and a work bee has been slated to spruce it up. High school students have offered to paint it. A fundraising concert has been scheduled.
Cash donations are being accepted at the Mary C. Moore Public Library, and donated households items and clothing are being gathered elsewhere.
The private sponsorship involves the raising of about $25,000, some of which will come from a national body that helps sponsor refugees. Sponsorships involve a one-year commitment to a refugee family.
“Everyone is very anxious to help and we have lots of support,” said Cruickshank. “It snowballed.”
It is not known when the family will arrive. They just found out last week about the family, she said.
These Syrians do not speak English and are not professionals. “They are going to need us for awhile. And I think that makes it really worthwhile,” Cruickshank said.
At least two other groups in Central Alberta are privately sponsoring Syrian refugees. St. Matthew Parish in Rocky Mountain House is sponsoring a husband and wife who have no children. Our Lady of Peace Church in Innisfail is sponsoring a couple who have a young daughter and son.
In Red Deer, a number of Syrian families have started to arrive. As many as 200 government-sponsored refugees are expected in the city.
There are a several contacts for the Lacombe Community Refugee Effort. Isabel Wymann, at 403-782-5348, is looking after collecting clothing and smaller household items. Walter Land is in charge of collecting larger items like furniture, and two sea-can containers are slowly filling. He’s at 403-782-2425.
For more information about the refugee effort, contact Cruickshank at 403-782-5357 or Marlene Ironside at 403-350-1753.
The fundraising concert, with performances by the Flat Iron Jazz Group and others, is at the Wolf Creek Community Church, on Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the library and Sunny 94 radio station.