This month, several hundred Syrian refugees arrived on Canadian soil, as our government discusses bringing in 50,000 people from the region by next year. To help make their lives here a little homier, furniture giant IKEA has promised to donate $180,000 worth of furniture to newcomers in order to help them get settled.
Refugees can get support via registered Canadian charities, who have until March 31, 2016 to request funding. The money will go to those who live within a one-hour drive of an IKEA store or order and drop-off location. Each household granted funding receives up to $5,000 that can be used for the following items:
Dining room tables and chairs
Living room seating
This generous offer isn’t a one-off for IKEA. The commitment to donating all of this money started when the company launched the ‘Brighter Lives For Refugees’ campaign in coordination UNHCR, The United Nations Refugee Agency. Just last year, the initiative raised $14.6 million around the world to solar powered energy systems in refugee camps across the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
While many of the newcomers to Canada will appreciate the gesture of receiving furniture, somebody should probably tell them how impossibly challenging it can be to assemble a nightstand or coffee table from the place. $5,000 won’t get their entire house furnished from IKEA, either, but hey, at least it’s a start.
There are plenty of other Canadian companies stepping up to help out those still set to arrive in the coming days, too. Canadian National Railway has vowed to donate $5 million towards providing Syrian refugees with affordable housing. The Canadian chapter of the International Board of Books For Young People has offered to donate books and provide newcomers with information on the library system. Sacred Heart School in downtown Montreal has offered to set up a $50,000 fund for children to join summer camps.
It’s amazing what happens when Canada’s people and businesses come together to make a difference, and while we should all be proud to lend support to people in need (I’m talking about Syrians and Canadians here), let’s face it, it’s the holiday season and we can always do more to spread the joy. Let’s keep on giving Canada.