Thanks to two local women, it is now easier for residents in the South Carleton area to help refugee families from Ukraine and other countries who are now living in the area.
Barb Blair has spearheaded the House to Home campaign to assist refugee families who are settling in the region. She and Marjerie Toner, who are both very active with the Manotick Legion, have worked relentlessly to make their project become a reality.
“We started in April by collecting items, and it just grew from there,” Blair said.
Blair’s husband, Roy, and Marjerie’s husband, Allan Haan, have both been heavily involved in the Manotick Legion for many years. However, the husbands are quick to say that their involvement is only to support their wives, and occasionally to help carry things.
Blair said that they have been able to lease a building that was once a grocery store near Mooney’s Bay in Ottawa. Refugee families can arrange to pick up food, clothing and household items at the store. Everything in the centre was donated.
Toner said that the project has received overwhelming support.
“We have people drop off a number of things,” she said. “We have had everything from clothes to small kitchen appliances and furniture. We have even had people drop off bicycles.”
Toner and Haan had been storing items at their home over the summer, making regular trips to the Mooney’s Bay area store to deliver the donations. Now, donations are being accepted at the Manotick Legion and taken to the donation centre on a regular basis.
On Wednesday of last week, Carleton MPP Goldie Ghamari and her staff made a visit to the Legion to drop off several bags of gently used clothing that their families had donated. Ghamari and her staff had been casually chatting about decluttering when they came up with the idea of donating their items to the cause.
“It is getting bigger and bigger, and we are hearing from more families who want to help,” said Blair. “We are also hearing from refugee families who are moving into the area. When they are placed in a home to live, they show up and it is empty, and they have nothing but the clothes they were wearing, a cell phone, and maybe a backpack and their passports. People call us and ask what the families need. I tell them ‘everything.’”
While the focus is currently on helping Ukrainian families, Blair said that the project is intended to help all refugee families.
“When we started the project, most of the help was given to families who came here from Afghanistan,” Blair said. “But we are here for refugee families from all countries.”
Donations for House to Home are accepted at the Manotick Legion on Beaverwood Road at Ann Street every Saturday from 2-5 p.m.