EMCN donation centre provides essentials, sense of belonging for newcomers
When the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society (EERSS) closed its doors at the end of September, a gap in services was left for many newcomers to Canada.
The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN) knew that many of its clients were relying on EERSS to get settled in their new lives in Canada, so they decided to fill that gap.
“The idea came when EERSS closed their doors. We had already had a partnership with them,” says Dalia Abdellatif, Emergency Relief Connector at EMCN.
At the beginning of November, EMCN opened the Don Baergen Donation Centre to help the new refugees.
“At the time EMCN didn’t have any sources to help their clients get essential goods or gather donations so we thought about opening a small donation centre so we can help our clients,” says Dalia.
Donations have already started coming in since the space has been opened at EMCN, but more donations are always needed.
“We’ve only been open for a month and have been helping approximately 30 families,” she says.
“We have household items, clothes, bedding, pillows, shoes, all the winter gear.
Most of the newcomers, especially if they come in the winter, they struggle to adapt to the temperature and the weather,” says Dalia.
Many of the newcomers being served are refugees.
“Some of them have jackets, but they’re from back home not going to work in freezing temperatures, so they need good winter jackets,” says Dalia.
The donation centre, located at 11713 - 82 Street, is still in need of household items and winter gear for immigrants and refugees arriving in Edmonton.
“These donations are important because newcomers, when they arrive, some of them they don’t have anything,” she says. “They left everything behind, especially the refugees. They don’t have the money to buy all the things you need to start your new life, so a little bit of help at the beginning makes them feel welcome in the community.”
The donations not only meet a practical need but show newcomers that Canadians are glad they are here, and want them to succeed.
“I always tell them the donations are from the community,” she says. “So they know that the community is welcoming them to their new homes.”
To make a donation to the Don Baergen Donation Centre, contact Dalia at firstname.lastname@example.org.