The “St Croix Vineyard Church & Friends” refugee sponsorship group has held two meetings, raised $10,000 in donations and has organized over thirty volunteers into committees. Group co-chair Tom Wiebe expresses the excitement of the group: “We were surprised at the amount of enthusiasm within our church and the wider community. While our eventual goal is $30,000 for a single family we have been fortunate in seeing donations arrive already in our first ten days. It is very encouraging,” he said.
The initial plan is to sponsor one family of four to six persons and consider additional families depending on fundraising results and community support. As the group is partnering with the Atlantic Baptist Convention which is a federal “Sponsorship Agreement Holder,” it triggers federal funding and easier access to various forms of assistance.
Co-chair Don Olmstead spoke of the amount of work involved. “We have committees for education, medical, housing, furniture and household needs, liaison with governments and support organizations, mental health, employment, cultural awareness training, family finances etc. Fortunately we have over thirty capable volunteers already so we are confident we can handle the challenge”, he said.
The first two priorities are fundraising and furnishing an apartment or rental house. The group will be soliciting personal, corporate and group donations. Donations are deductible for tax purposes and 100% of funds raised are used for the refugee project. Persons interested in donating may contact the St Croix Vineyard Church (466-5725) or either co-chair Don Olmstead ( 466-2893) or Tom Wiebe (466-2717). Groups interested in doing a fundraising event are very welcome.
Olmstead noted that “It is not often that we can invest in a genuine humanitarian cause and see the results right here in our town. The opportunity to truly save a family from the horrors of their destroyed country and constant threats to their very lives is one to which we should respond with energy.”
In a similar comment Wiebe stated “Individuals, groups and governments from coast to coast are being creative in responding to this unique situation. Please join us in being a part of Canada’s peaceful and generous history.”
Collecting sufficient furniture, appliances, lamps and housewares for a family of 4-6 is a major undertaking and that group is led by Tony and Madeline Huntjens. Refugee groups have generally adopted the standard that if you would not use the item yourself then it is not a suitable donation. Groups with experience have learned to exclude donations of items such as used mattresses. If you have extra items in suitable condition you can contact the Huntjens at 466-1977.
This group is one of at least two that been established in Charlotte Country to bring refugee families to the area. Donations of all sizes are welcome as each enables our community rescue and give a future to an entire family.