Syrian refugee clothing unable to send donations

Lauren Sluss News Contributor

Donations complete, funding still needed for shipment overseas

A donation of over 1,700 pounds of clothing meant for Syrian refugees remains grounded at Oregon State University due to a lack of funding for shipping.

One of OSU’s largest student run projects, the Ettihad Cultural Center is planning to send the collected donations from their Syrian refugee clothing drive to a settlement in Erbil, Iraq this week.

Although the ECC was hoping to send the shipment on Feb. 29, they have had difficulty raising funding to ship the clothes to Erbil. The shipment will cost a total of about $4,500.

The ECC has been relying on other organizations for funding, because OSU mandates that student fee funded organization cannot raise their own money, according to Associate Director of Global Diversity Amarah Khan.

“We were really counting on the community to step in and help us,” Khan said. “We were relying on Greek life partners to raise money for us, and although they have been supportive, they haven’t been able to raise many funds.”

Currently the ECC is looking toward local church communities, OSU leadership and administration for last minute donations in order to finally send the clothing to their destination.

“We have brought the campaign this far,” Khan said. “These students have worked day and night to create a vision and have it implemented, and we are now at the very last stage. We are working very hard, and I’m very positive this will come through.”

Throughout the month of February, the OSU community was encouraged to donate gently used warm clothing to the ECC, aiding in their first established humanitarian project. The ECC hopes to permanently establish a humanitarian agenda into their mission, working to aid the humanitarian needs around the world each year.

“Sometimes organizations with power take advantage of it, but we took it into a different perspective,” said Khanaa Abdullan, ECC peer facilitator. “We wanted to use the ECC’s resources to help others.”

The ECC chose to focus their humanitarian project on the Syrian refugee settlement in Erbil, Iraq, where temperatures throughout February have reached negative six degrees Fahrenheit.

“Syrian refugees are in dire need, especially now,” said Alisha Mitchell, ECC leadership liaison. “We do realize there are a lot of other people who are homeless or need some sort of support, but as of now, the population that is in much need of this clothing is the Syrian refugees.”

Donations from the OSU community were collected last week from the 11 drop off points, including ISOSU, ASOSU, INTO OSU, International Student Advising and Services and all of the seven cultural centers.

“All of the cultural centers have been so incredibly helpful with advertising their donation boxes,” Mitchell said. “The majority of the clothes have come from INTO OSU, and we had much support from them.”

ECC members and community volunteers spent this entire past weekend collecting the donations from the various drop off points, sorting through them, packing them in airtight bags and finally placing them in 16 large and 18 medium shipping boxes.

“We really care about the quality of the clothing we are going to be sending, so we were very careful while sorting and packing all the clothes,” said Roaia Albish, ECC volunteer coordinator.

The ECC is hoping to receive as many donations as they can this week in order to send the clothes through airfreight, which would take two weeks for the clothing to arrive in Erbil. If the funding falls short, however, the clothing will be shipped through ocean freight, taking about two months to reach Erbil.

“Our fear with using ocean freight is by then the weather will have altered in Iraq, so some of the really warm clothing would not be very useful,” Khan said.

Donations towards the shipment are able to be made directly to the shipping company. Presently, the ECC is planning on shipping through Pak Mail, but is still waiting for a quote from an online company.

“It’s been hard, but such a great learning process,” Mitchell said. “It’s great to know that we will be supporting people who can’t afford their own clothes and making a huge difference in their lives. Knowing that really gets us motivated to do what we do.”

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