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  • Jon Dusza, News Editor

Students organize a fundraiser to buy coats for Afghan refugees

Within the next few months, Canisius will be welcoming refugees from Afghanistan. Fleeing from a wartorn country, leaving everything which they have grown accustomed to behind and moving across entire oceans to live in a new country is an incomprehensibly difficult and extreme change. A group of students here at Canisius is doing a coat drive for those refugees, to try to make that transition just a little bit easier.

We talked to Hawa Saleh, who is one of the students in charge of the drive. As she and a group of students were discussing ideas for how to help others as a part of a school project, the idea to help the Afghan refugees coming to Canisius ended up being a no-brainer. Saleh said of the drive, “I think that’s one way we can actually make a difference, a tangible change that we can see.”

The goal is to raise $600, which, according to the group’s calculations, will be enough for winter coats for all 16 Afghan refugees, as well as additional money for hats and gloves. As is quite clear, winter apparel is a necessity in Buffalo. Any extra money raised will also go directly to the refugees, through gift baskets filled with other essentials.

The drive has brought out much of what makes Canisius special. Over 60 people have already donated, and the ending of the drive is still around a month away. “I’m just really proud of the Canisius community,” Saleh said. “You can’t help but feel warm at the fact that so many people want to help.”

This serves as the epitome of what Jesuit values are supposed to be: service to the community and fulfillment of the obligation that we have to our fellow human beings, to help them out when they are less fortunate and going through times more difficult than many of us could possibly imagine.

Every single donation makes a difference. Saleh said, “We’ve been getting a lot of students who just donate two or three dollars, but that accumulates.” It is no secret that on a college campus, many students are strapped for cash — considering the expense of merely attending school — so for any student to donate even just one dollar is all the more powerful. Considering that, Saleh said, “The fact that students give even one dollar, it does put a smile on my face, even though people can’t see it through the mask.”

While one donation may be small, if more and more people contribute, the total will soon be massive, which allows for a greater difference to be made. “Each time a person ... acts to improve the lot of others,” Robert F. Kennedy once said, “they send forth a tiny ripple of hope; and crossing each other from a million different epicenters of energy and daring, those ripples form a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Saleh and her team are accepting donations of lightly worn coats, or any amount of money given through Venmo before Dec. 7. Also, the group is tabling from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. “We have candy!” Saleh said.

More information about the drive can be found in Today @ Canisius emails, and Saleh can be contacted at She emphasizes that any donation of any amount is greatly appreciated, and it all goes for a good cause to help the new members of our community who need it most.

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