DIVERSEcity's Bundle up campaign

DIVERSEcity’s Bundle Up Campaign helps refugees keep warm for winter

With cold temperatures and even snowfall expected this winter, DIVERSEcity is seeking warm clothes, food staples and more for local refugee families, many of whom are experiencing their first Canadian winter.

As winter approaches, DIVERSEcity aims to give back to the community with its Bundle Up Campaign, an annual donation drive for refugees and higher need clients to prepare them for the cold Canadian winter months that are fast approaching.

Jordan-born Rana Alahmad is the coordinator of the campaign at the Surrey-based non-profit organization. “Many refugees and newcomers to Canada come from warm countries and they are not prepared for the cold winter weather here,” said Alahmad, who is also DIVERSEcity’s Refugee and Immigrant Specialized Experience (RISE) Program Coordinator.

“They also have many kids sometimes and can’t afford to get appropriate winter clothing. As DIVERSEcity is devoted to helping newcomers, part of this devotion is to help those who are in need. It’s one of DIVERSEcity’s ways to give back to the community and help newly arrived refugee and immigrant families stay warm,” adds Alahmad.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data reveals that of the 164,255 refugees that Canada has received since 2015, more than 18,000 of them have been resettled in the province of British Columbia.  And Surrey is a top destination.

Between 2011 and 2016, Surrey received 36,335 recent immigrants, while its net increase in immigrant population grew by 32,310, the highest of any municipality in BC,” according to a report by NewtoBC. And refugees make up 11 per cent of Surrey’s total immigrant population and 10.2 per cent of its recent immigrant population. Poised to become BC’s largest city by 2030, Surrey is likely to continue receiving a high proportion of BC’s refugees and immigrants.

To meet the needs of this growing segment of the population, DIVERSEcity has been providing specialized services for newcomers and refugees to Surrey, Delta, Langley and White Rock for more than 40 years. Coupled with the other services DIVERSEcity provides newcomers, the Bundle up Campaign makes transitioning to life in Canada smoother by providing refugees with the essentials to adjust to a climate they are unfamiliar with.

“The clients always express their gratitude and are thankful for the warm clothes and food staples that they get,” said Alahmad.

Sadia, an Eritrean refugee and mother of five, was one of the clients from last year’s campaign. “I’m a single mom and I have five children. We lived in Sudan before coming to Canada, and it was hot there, so we didn’t have any winter clothes. I really appreciated it,” said Sadia. “Thank you to DIVERSEcity!”

Alahmad added: “We want to thank all of the community members and DIVERSEcity staff whom through their generous donations we have been able to run this annual campaign and help our clients. They truly make the difference for us, and we are extremely grateful!”

The donation drop-off day is Wednesday, November 20, 2019 (10 am to 4 pm) at Surrey City Centre Library (Room 402). The distribution day for DIVERSEcity’s Bundle Up Campaign follows on Friday, November 22, 2019 (9:30 am to 3 pm).