Charity’s thanks to donors for refugee aid

KNITTED teddy bears were just some of the items from a Granton warehouse, loaded on to a shipping container bound for to Lebanon to help 80,000 Syrian refugees.

EDA volunteers load up the donations. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

The chairman of Edinburgh Direct Aid, thanked those across the city who donated clothing and toys to the charity effort, helping to create a ten-tonne pile.

Around 15 volunteers gathered at the charity’s yard, in West Shore Road, to load the essentials on to the container, which will arrive in the Middle Eastern country in six weeks time.

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Denis Rutovitz, chair of the charity, said the number of donations has been “astonishing” following the headlines covering the Syrian refugee crisis.

Winter coats, school equipment, toiletries and underwear, were among the items provided by residents, who rushed to give to those in need.

“There has been avalanche of donations – everyone just wants to help out,” Mr Rutovitz said. “I think people are quite suspicious of giving money, so many have donated toiletries and clothes.

“We’ve had so many donations, we could only fit half of them on to this container and we’ve had to keep the others in another warehouse, kindly lent to us by the council.

“We are planning to ship the rest of them out to Germany, to help refugees there.”

The charity, which helps address disasters, rented a warehouse from the council in Granton to stock all the goods, which have now been sent to the town of Arsal.

Fabric, wool and 30 sewing machines, are among the many items to be shipped to Lebanon.

These will help with vocational training and to prepare refugees for job hunting, charity officials have said.

Mr Rutovitz said: “I would just like to say a huge thank-you to everyone that has donated.

“It will make a real difference to many people’s lives and will be very much appreciated by those in need.”

Maggie Tookey, the charity’s operations leader, who is flying out to Lebanon for the arrival of the container, said she is looking forward to seeing the refugees receive the items.

“My job is to help unload the container, trek it up to the border and then distribute it in the town,” she said.

“I have been working for the charity for two years and I really enjoy it.

“It is nice to see the reaction on people’s faces when they get given the donations – it’s really nice to watch.

“It will be great to see the children receive their knitted teddy bears and the ladies receive sewing machines to help with vocational training.”

There was a huge response after Syrian toddler Aylan was found drowned on a Turkish beach earlier this month.