Barhite: Local clothing drive to help Syrian refugeesWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Shane Lakatos and his wife, Lona, founded Social Services for the Arab Community in January 2011, their intention was to help limited English and low-income Arab families in Northwest Ohio. Now, their efforts have evolved to include Syrian refugees living in a Jordan camp.
Through Sept. 4, they will accept new and gently used clothing for Project Hope. Several local businesses, including a Methodist church, are serving as drop sites.
“The people who are coming from Syria are leaving everything in their homes,” Shane Lakatos said. “They are fleeing with their lives. They are escaping a lot of violence. When they get outside of the boundaries, there isn’t a lot of help for them.”
Suggested donations include new or gently worn winter coats, hats and gloves for men, women and children. The refugees also need tennis shoes and socks, as well as pants and shirts for men and modest clothing for women (long skirts and blouses or long sleeved T-shirts).
The shipment will hold up to 35,000 pounds of clothes, but Lakatos isn’t sure how many people it will help. One refugee might take a few items, while a refugee family might need a lot.
“We wanted to send this to Lebanon, but they don’t recognize Syrians as refugees because of the politics,” he said.
Lakatos has arranged for the shipment to be distributed free of prejudice in Jordan. Clothing won’t be stolen and sold. Refugees who accept a donation won’t have to convert either.
Born and raised in Toledo, Lakatos lived in Kuwait for awhile. His wife is from Jordan.
Northwest Ohio has 16,000 Arabic-speaking residents who are watching the Syrian horror on television, he said, and donating will give them a way to help.
“If you think about it, we grow up in this area, but we don’t know how deep the Arab ties are to the area. Danny Thomas and Jamie Farr all come from an Arab background.”
Toledo is much more integrated than Detroit, which is why he believes non-Arabs will donate to Project Hope as well.
Christy Mesaros-Winckles is the outreach director at one of the churches serving as a drop site.
“Holland Free Methodist Church always makes an effort to help individuals in need,” she said via email. “As Christians we are called to care for the most vulnerable individuals, no matter how far away they might be. The Free Methodist Church has a long history of promoting social justice issues around the world, and the clothes drive is just one of many international endeavors Holland Free Methodist is engaged in.”
Clothing can be donated at the following drop sites through Sept. 4.
- Holland Free Methodist Church, 6605 Angola Road
- Nabil’s Same Day Sign, 539 S. Reynolds Road
- Jim White Honda, 1505 S. Reynolds Road
- Crossroads Community Church, 6960 Sylvania-Petersburg Road, Whiteford, Mich.
- Westfield Franklin Park Mall, 5001 Monroe St.
Tags: Brandi Barhite, Christy Mesaros-Winckles, Community Ombudsman, Crossroads Community Church, Holland Free Methodist Church, Jim White Honda, Jordan, Lona Lakatos, Nabil’s Same Day Sign, Project Hope, Shake Lakatos, Social Services for the Arab Community, Syria, Westfield Franklin Park Mall