Grade 12 student suggests fundraiser for Syrian family
By Agnieszka Krawczynski
Photo: Students from St. Patrick's and members of the refugee sponsorship committee at Immaculate Conception Parish welcome Joseph, Elksandra, and Naya Tidori at Vancouver International Airport. (Photo submitted).
When students in their socials class at St. Patrick’s Secondary School learned about the Syrian refugee crisis, they knew they needed to do something about it.
“It’s such a huge problem, the refugee crisis, and a lot of the time you feel there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Grade 12 student Eva Dvorak.
So when some classmates said they wanted to act, she suggested putting on a fundraiser for a Syrian family of three who were about to arrive at her parish, Immaculate Conception in Vancouver.
“I thought it would be fun to get the school community involved” in helping the Tidori family, she said.
At the time, Joseph, Elksandra, and their nine-year-old daughter Naya were in a refugee camp in Jordan, where they had been living for about two years. Immaculate Conception sponsored them and was waiting for their arrival.
Her friends at St. Patrick’s agreed and got principal Ralph Gabriele on board.
“It was a no-brainer for me,” said Gabriele, who allowed a “dress down” day Oct. 13; any student who donated $2 could leave their uniforms at home for a day.
It was a success. Dvorak saw some students donate more than the required $2, and by the end of the day, the teens in jeans had raised more than $700.
“We have a really good community,” Gabriele explained. Over the years, St. Patrick’s has held “dress down” fundraisers for causes such as cancer research, pro-life initiatives, and outreach to the homeless.
“It gives them an opportunity to give back and see the fruits of their labour and see what it’s going towards,” Gabriele said.
Dvorak rolled the coins and gave the funds to the refugee sponsorship committee at Immaculate Conception. A few weeks later, in early November, the Tidori family arrived.
“It’s cool to see something we talk about in a socials class” turn into “meeting and helping a family that’s living that reality,” said Dvorak, who helped greet the family at the airport.
“They’ve become a really strong part of our community.”