The group in Hubbards began in a church hall in the small community on the province's south shore with the goal of sponsoring one family, and has been fundraising with community meals and art shows. Susy MacGillivray of the Bay Refugee Project said in an email that donations of $1000, $2000 and $5000 have flowed in, helping lift the group beyond its original expectations. "We have raised enough to sponsor two families and may well have enough to sponsor a third. We have turned our focus from fundraising to settlement," she said in an email. "However, many other groups are not quite there yet with their fundraising." The motives for those writing cheques are diverse, but often converge on a view that the Syrian struggles mirror those of past generations of refugees. Jack and Nancy Jefferson, retirees who live in Vancouver, made the first private donation to the Bay Refugee Project. The couple provided $800 after reading a newspaper story about the group as they travelled through the province visiting their daughter. "The war has changed the Syrians' lives and changed the lives of their children. ... They are people who have no place to go and they're desperate," said Jack. "I wanted to do something to bring them out of this and give them something brighter." By writing a cheque, "you don't feel completely helpless," he explained. The federal government has said 10,000 of the 25,000 Syrians it will bring to Canada by the end of February will be privately sponsored. The federal website that updates progress says that as of Christmas Eve there were almost 5,000 refugees who have either arrived in Canada or whose application has been finalized but have not yet travelled to Canada. In a news conference on Wednesday, federal immigration minister John McCallum said corporations including CN, RBC, and Scotiabank had provided $8.5 million, and many other companies were contributing.
"I appreciated the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of welcoming refugees to Canada. So that cheque didn't hurt. I felt it was a personal opportunity."
"We have an anonymous company who's just pledged $2 million, but doesn't want its name to be known," he said. The minister also noted that Khalid Usman, a leading member of the Muslim community in the Toronto area, held a fundraiser and had raised $1 million, while mosques in the area raised a further $2 million. "At the other end of the spectrum, we have little children across the country committing to produce 25,000 toques for the refugees, and this started in Quebec, but has spread across the country," said McCallum.
"I wanted to do something to bring them out of this and give them something brighter."
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