A group of four young Sudburians are heading to Lesvos, Greece at the end of the month to volunteer with a humanitarian organization assisting the flood of refugees arriving on the island's shores.
Kaycee Belanger, Sarah Hargan, Marissa Connolly and Taylor Williamson, all aged 24, will be volunteering with Lighthouse Refugee Relief for a month starting Jan. 31.
The registered NGO works with refugees, many of them fleeing the civil war in Syria, who put ashore at a dangerous, rocky spot near a lighthouse on Lesvos after crossing the treacherous Aegean.
The organization also runs a refugee camp, giving those waiting to be admitted to Greece a temporary place to stay.
Belanger, who returned home to Sudbury last month after working as a teacher in England, said she's heard so much about the Syrian refugee crisis, and wanted to do something hands-on to help.
“We're going to be on the beaches, helping them,” she said. “We'll be making sure everybody gets off safely, and dealing with injuries, providing them with food and warm blankets and taking them into the camps.”
Before they head out, though, Belanger and her friends are trying to raise $5,000 to purchase supplies they can give to the refugees, such as tents, sleeping bags and baby carries.
Some of the supplies will be purchased in Greece, and they'll bring others along with them.
The group is paying its own way over to the country, so 100 per cent of the donations will go to the refugees.
“We're giving them supplies that they can actually use to make their journey as comfortable as possible,” Belanger said.
“Could you imagine, you're walking hundreds of kilometres with all of these children, and you're holding your toddler? ... Having baby carriers is really useful in making their journey easier.”
The friends are holding a fundraising evening at Alexandria's Restaurant on Jan. 22 (Friday) starting at 6 p.m. A $20 cover includes live music by Chicks With Picks and free appetizers.
For more information, search for Good Music – Good Food – Good Cause // Sudbury Supporting Refugees on Facebook.
If you can't attend the fundraiser, but still wish to donate, search for Sudbury Donates to Refugees on the crowdfunding website www.youcaring.com.