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Edmonton Mennonite Centre For Newcomers desperate for new donation centre space

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Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers asks for donations and help to support refugees. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN) is seeking a low-cost or no-cost space for a new coordinated donation centre that could serve all those in need of emergency household, clothing, furniture and supplies. It also requires additional funding to continue to operate. As Edmonton becomes a hub city for refugees from Ukraine and many other areas of the world, and backlogged immigrants arrive in high numbers in Edmonton, EMCN can no longer meet all the item needs of incoming refugees and immigrants without more financial support. 

“Our city needs a permanent home for donations intended for refugees, victims of emergencies, and others needing to make a fresh start. The Refugee Donation Centre in EMCN’s language classes building is just a bootstrap operation until a more permanent solution is established," said Megan Klein, EMCN Executive Director.

The Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society (EERSS) had been operating out of a Government of Alberta building downtown since the mid-1980’s. Significant upgrades to the building became necessary for EERSS to maintain operations and the society was forced to vacate and find a new location. As a result, EERSS closed its doors, and Edmonton lost its only donation centre serving those in need of emergency household, clothing and goods.

"Refugees need all basic household items like bedsheets, blankets, towels, pots, dishware, diapers, tampons, toothpaste, schoolbags, children’s books and toys, etc," said Klein. "Arrivals of newcomers fleeing the crisis in Ukraine are not even provided a standard refugee allowance as they are not designated as refugees when arriving under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program. Without access to unrestricted supports like EMCN’s donation centre for refugees, many vulnerable families will simply go without basic necessities."

Klein says a New Start Essentials Market would integrate wraparound services like food, employment, housing, and family supports with a donation centre, serving those impacted by fire, flood and other emergencies, new Albertans (refugees and newcomers), teen parents, and unhoused Albertans.

Space for the New Start Essentials Market would ideally be on Edmonton’s north-east side and closely attached to C5’s existing food market and employment hub to serve dual purposes of providing life and household essentials and connecting people to life skill and employment skill building operations. 

The Social Impact Academy is currently completing a feasibility study to operate the donation centre with a thrift store extension and employment training centre to offer multiple revenue streams to support ongoing operations. 

EMCN needs to find a new permanent home for the donation centre by September 2022 when teachers and students will once again return to fill the building for on-site English classes and childcare. 

For more on donating and supporting refugees, see www.emcn.ab.ca/donate.

To volunteer or donate goods to the Refugee Donation Centre, call 780-423-9524.