Supporting refugees: Student organizations help provide for those in need

Syrian Refugee Clothing Drive

Lauren Sluss, News Contributor

Partnering with ASOSU and ISOSU, the Ettihad Cultural Center is hosting its first clothing drive for Syrian refugees throughout the month of February, looking to support the Syrian refugees settled in Greece and Erbil, Iraq.

The ECC is requesting donations of gently used warm clothing. Students can donate their clothes at one of the 11 drop-off points, including all of the seven cultural centers, INTO OSU, ISOSU, ASOSU, and International Student Advising and Services, and the drive will conclude on Feb. 29.

The ECC chose to focus their humanitarian project on the Syrian refugee crisis due to its overwhelming need, according to Associate Director of Global Diversity Amarah Khan.

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“The Syrian refugee crisis is the biggest displacement of people since the second world war,” Khan said. “There was no denying the need. We decided that is where our energies would be spent.”

The clothing will be sent not only to the refugees in Greece, but also to a large settlement of families in Erbil, Iraq, where temperatures have reached negative six degrees Farenheit this past week.

“Syria is a country within our region of Ettihad,” said ECC graphic designer Hussain Al Balushi. “They need the most help out of all the issues around the world because they are everywhere and not just in their country—they don’t have the essentials they need.”

The clothing drive marks the ECC’s first established humanitarian project. The ECC hopes to permanently establish a humanitarian agenda into the ECC’s mission, keeping track of humanitarian needs around the world each year.

“When I came on board, I felt like there are all these very dedicated and enthusiastic students, and I need to give them the opportunity to have a humanitarian agenda,” Khan said. “I proposed it and the students loved the idea, but I wanted to make sure that they didn’t go about it in a solitary fashion and that they actually worked together with other student organizations.”

Along with the help of ASOSU and ISOSU, the ECC is looking toward the entirety of the university community for support, according to Al Balushi.

“We are encouraging students to help each other,” Al Balushi said. “We’re encouraging all people engaged with OSU to participate in this clothing drive and help others.”

Donating clothing is only half of the project, however. They still in need of the funding to ship the clothes to Greece and Erbil, Iraq, a total of about $5000.

Because the ECC is a student fee funded organization, they cannot actually raise money, but can raise donations through other organizations.

“This puts us in a unique spot where we have the donations, but no funds to send the clothes,” Khan said. “I reached out to some local nonprofits that have international operations, but both of them decided that the cost is too prohibitive for them to support us.”

The ECC is currently seeking the support of non-student fee funded organizations and colleges on campus who can raise private funding, specifically OSU Greek life. However, whether their funding will come through or not is still uncertain.

“We don’t know if we’ve raised any money from OSU Greek life yet,” Khan said. “There are other colleges on campus who have suggested that they might be able to help, but at this point we are seeking all ideas and all support.”

Currently the ECC is mainly focusing on publicizing the clothing drive, hopefully encouraging other organizations to help their cause, according to Al Balushi.

“I just hope to spread the word and let people be aware about this clothing drive,” Al Balushi said. “Helping others is good, and we need to be kind to each other.”

More information regarding the clothing drive can be found at the Ettihad Cultural Center, ASOSU, ISOSU, and the ECC’s Facebook page.

Students are encouraged to participate not only to help the ECC’s first humanitarian project, but also to help aid others around the world, according to Eena Haws Native American Longhouse student leadership liaison Kapena Chee.

“It’s more than just a good feeling opportunity, but more about helping your fellow human,” Chee said. “People are bold enough to ask for help, and by that we have the responsibility to respond, and with international politics and relations the way they are now, I think it’s nice to offset with positivity.”

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