Marco Zenone (L) and Rajaan Garcha (R) posing beside one of the 'angel trees'.

Angel Tree project brings cheer to new refugees during festive season

November 22, 2016

The SFU Health Sciences Student Union (HSUSU) is promoting its fourth annual Angel Tree project, which brings cheer to those in need during the holiday season. This year, HSUSU has partnered with the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) to collect donations for new refugees.

The ‘angel trees’ are Christmas trees decorated with ornaments that list the refugees’ needs, such as transit passes, groceries, home supplies. The HSUSU and the SFSS are that requesting donors give gift cards for these items. They also suggest that donors might like to prepare a children’s box filled with toys and school supplies, or a family-care box filled with household items, toiletries and family excursion passes. Another option is to make an online donation.

There are two angel trees at the Burnaby campus—at the Blusson Hall entrance and at the SFSS office in the Maggie Benston Centre. There is also a tree at the SFSS office at the Surrey campus.

All contributions will support student refugees who have come to SFU through the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) program, and newcomers affiliated with the Middle Eastern Friendship Centre, a volunteer organization that provides necessities and services to recent refugees.

“Over the past four years, we have established a tradition of giving back to the community during the festive season,” says Marco Zenone, HSUSU undergraduate studies representative and one of the leaders of this year’s initiative. He says the HSUSU makes a point of being meaningfully engaged in the community, choosing to work with organizations and programs that serve refugees who have faced incredible hardship.

In previous years the Angel Tree initiative has partnered with Burnaby Family Life and Vancouver Rape Relief to assist low-income families.

“The Angel Tree initiative is one of the ways we are applying what we are learning in our health sciences courses,” says Raajan Garcha, SFSS health sciences representative. Armed with the knowledge that health is influenced by social and economic conditions, she hopes to alleviate some of the stress that comes with starting a new life by extending a helping hand to new refugees.

To contribute or to learn more about the Angel Tree initiative, please visit Contributions will be accepted until Dec. 14, 2016.