Friday April 18, 2014

Hundreds of Kamloops sweaters bound for Syria

'Almost every day our donation box was full of bags of clothing'
The Associated Press

Newly arrived Syrian refugees make their way after crossing into Ruweishid, Jordan, on Thursday. They are part of the 1,000 Syrians to cross into Jordan, using a desert route in the east near the Iraqi border.

Sweaters from Kamloops are bound for Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, the home of more than 110,000 war-battered Syrians facing winter in temporary shelters.

Eight-hundred sweaters were collected this fall by Lord of Life Lutheran Church as part of a Canadian Lutheran World Relief project. They will be added to 40,000 other sweaters from across Canada being shipped to the camp.

“When we began this project, we thought that if we could gather a hundred sweaters or so we would be doing good,” said Pastor Gordon Heselton.

“Thanks to the generosity of Kamloopsians, we received eight times that number. Almost every day our donation box was full of bags of clothing. We were scrambling to find enough large boxes to ship them all.”

St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop donated seven bags while other thrift stores contributed as well. Home Hardware provided for the shipping.

Other warm-clothing donations that didn’t qualify for the program will be distributed to local service organizations.

One shipping container is en route and another will be sent later this month. There are other ways people can contribute to the cause by:

* Making a designated offering at any Lutheran congregation.

* Making an online gift at; click on Emergencies and select Syrian Refugee Relief.

* Calling 1-800-661-2597.

* Sending a cheque payable to CLWR, 600 —177 Lombard Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R3B 0W5.

More than 560,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan since the uprising against President Bashar Assad broke out in March 2011. Activists say more than 120,000 people have been killed in the civil war. As the fighting increased in recent months — especially in southern towns — the number of refugees has risen.

This past January, howling winds tore down some tents and flooding piled more misery on those who fled Syria’s civil war. Hundreds were displaced from their temporary shelters in the Zaatari camp. Exposed to freezing temperatures, some refugees attacked aid workers at a food distribution centre, injuring a dozen before being dispersed by Jordanian riot police.

Aid workers said they have a better winter plan this year.

In Zaatari, which is 14 kilometres south of the Syrian border, many of the refugees’ plastic tents will be replaced in the coming weeks with prefabricated trailers donated by Gulf Arab states, said Andy Needham, a press officer with the UN refugee agency.

A drainage system was set up to dump floodwaters outside the camp and efforts are being made to keep the refugees warm and dry, said Kilian Kleinschmidt, who runs Zaatari for the UN.

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