News / Toronto

Danforth sleeps in the cold to give Syrians a warm welcome

Nearly 100 people ready to sleep in the cold this Saturday to help raise $10,000 to sponsor refugees.

Elizabeth Dove and her daughter, Leila, 8, are among those planning to sleep outside this weekend as a fundraiser to help Syrian refugees.

Liz Beddall/Metro

Elizabeth Dove and her daughter, Leila, 8, are among those planning to sleep outside this weekend as a fundraiser to help Syrian refugees.

Danforth residents are about to prove they’ll do anything to help support soon-to-arrive Syrian refugees. Including sleeping out in the cold.

In a community event dubbed Sleep Out for Syrians, nearly 100 people have signed up to camp outside the Church of Resurrection near Danforth and Woodbine on Saturday night. The effort’s expected to raise $10,000, money that will go to help three Syrian families.

The Neighbourhood Group, a nonprofit agency in Toronto’s east end, has already raised more than $90,000, enough to cover the $25,000-per-family sponsorship fee.

But, Elizabeth Dove, who’s organizing the weekend event, said people were looking for a way to help even if they couldn’t afford to sponsor a family on their own.

“We thought we could show our solidarity by being welcoming,” she said.

Sleeping in near — or below — freezing temperatures can’t compare to the hardship refugees living in camps face, Dove said.

“We really hope this raises interest from the community about the problem of refugees,” she said. “My eight-year old will be camping out with me, as is the case with many other parents.”

Since the idea was raised three weeks ago, the community has really chipped in, Dove said.

A young engineer volunteered to plan for a proper set up of the “tent city.” Former Afghani refugees have volunteered to cook evening meals to share with campers.

There will be conversations about the current state of affairs in Syria and elsewhere, and musicians have volunteered to provide entertainment.

“It is really indicative of how Torontonians are willing to open their doors and help welcome refugees,” Dove said.  

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