A group of girls is hoping to make a difference in the lives of incoming Syrian refugee children — one pencil at a time.
Fourteen girls from the Third Victoria Girl Guides unit are collecting school supplies to give to school-aged Syrian refugee children as they begin school in the city.
The girls, between the ages of nine and 12 years old, are looking for donations of non-gender specific backpacks and school supplies such as lunch-kits, pencil boxes, markers and pencil crayons, among other things.
The Syrian refugee crisis has made international headlines in recent months. Canada has welcomed more than 23,000 Syrian refugees since November. Since then, the capital region has seen 28 people (five families and a single person). Most recently, the Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria announced it will be welcoming 290 refugees by the end of Feburary.
Girl Guide leader Dee Hoyano said many of the girls had been hearing about the Syrian refugee crisis through the news or in their schools, and were looking for ways to help.
“I think the girls are excited about the idea of welcoming them and helping support them in school,” Hoyano said, adding every year units try and give back to the community. “They were looking for a way to help make a difference and this was something concrete and tangible that they could get into and talk about with their friends, classmates and families.”
Their initial goal is to collect enough supplies to fill 18 backpacks — the number of girls and leaders in the unit. So far donations have been slowly trickling in, but they still need more.
“I think it’s important because everyone has a right to an eduction. If they want to have an education, then they need the supplies to do it,” said 12-year-old Girl Guide Sadie Black.
Twelve-year-old Katie, who is also a Girl Guide, added it’s “cool” she’s able to give back to the community.
The unit has been in contact with the Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria and the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Society Centre, that will help distribute the backpacks once they’ve determined which families are in need of the supplies.
Donations can be dropped off at the Grace Lutheran Church office (1273 Fort St.) on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. For more information visit victoriarefugeebackpacks.wordpress.com.