In the hopes of providing aid to Syrian refugees located across the world, the Arab Student Association is hosting a winter clothing drive.
Leaders of the student organization, which states that its mission is to create a forum for people interested in Arab language, culture and politics, said they hope to raise awareness about the crisis in Syria and to foster Arab solidarity.
“My hope is that this clothing drive will not only provide a direct way to help the refugees, but also to raise awareness about the magnitude of the Syrian crisis,” said Ama Frederickson ’17, secretary of the Arab Student Association.
At the moment, five clothing collection boxes exist across campus in locations including Willard Straight Hall, Hans Bethe House and Anabel Taylor Hall. Plans are underway to expand to North Campus, with donation sites recently setup at Balch Hall and Robert Purcell Community Center.
To ensure the safe arrival of the winter garments, the Arab Student Association is working with two humanitarian non-profit organizations, Helping Hand USA and Sunrise USA. Donated clothes will first be sent to Helping Hand USA, based in Michigan, and Sunrise USA, based in the United Kingdom, and then distributed.
The organization has been planning the clothing drive for a while, according to philanthropy chair Ahmad Sabbagh ’17, who spearheaded the project.
“As a Syrian, I came into the Arab Student Association wanting to do something big to help the Syrian people, who have been suffering for a long time, and the clothing drive was just one idea,” Sabbagh said. “However, it wasn’t until I attended a forum on the Syrian refugee crisis hosted by the South Asian Council a few weeks ago and received such a positive response and support from the dozens of attendees that I felt confident the clothing drive would have a great turnout on this campus.”
Additionally, students in the organization are discussing plans to extend the clothing drive and host a monetary fundraiser in the future.
Salma Shitia ’18, co-president of the group, said she believes the refugee situation is an urgent humanitarian crisis.
“Doesn’t collecting clothes demonstrate the magnitude of this crisis?” Shitia said. “Refugees struggle to find clothes to cover their body, a fear we as Cornellians, I would hope, rarely experience. If we could just donate one item of clothing that became too small or too big on our bodies, we could benefit another human being’s hope for survival.”