Helping refugees become new Winnipeggers.

Some incredible generosity from Westcorp will allow arrivals to Winnipeg to start their new lives with beautiful, gently-used furniture and housewares.

Westcorp is donating the contents of 34 units at Antares Luxury Suites – the former Place Louis Riel –  to United Way Winnipeg agency partner Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute (CMWI), which will distribute the items to families arriving from Syria.

“Winnipeg is going to be their home, and it shows them the warmth of Winnipeg and the people who are here to help,” said CMWI board president Yasmin Ali.

CMWI board president Yasmin Ali talks to a TV news crew on Monday about Westcorp's generous donation.

CMWI board president Yasmin Ali talks to a TV news crew on Monday about Westcorp’s generous donation.

Yasmin visited Antares Luxury Suites on Smith Street Monday to express her gratitude to Westcorp and have a look at the items destined to help new families.

The donation from the former hotel includes bedroom suites, with all the linen, as well as leather sofas, chairs & ottomans, dining room tables and chairs and all the contents of fully-furnished kitchens including pots, pans, plates, silverware, and small appliances.

John Saad, general manager of Antares Luxury Suites, said Westcorp believes in helping the communities they are part of, and when renovations at the residential building created the opportunity to donate he reached out to non-profit agencies assisting Syrian refugees.

Antares Luxury Suites general manager John Saad with CMWI board president Yasmin Ali and Winnipeg Coun. Janice Lukes among some of the furniture that will go to new Winnipeggers.

Antares Luxury Suites general manager John Saad with CMWI board president Yasmin Ali and Winnipeg Coun. Janice Lukes among some of the furniture that will go to new Winnipeggers.

“When we saw that all these refugees were coming to Winnipeg it was just a great fit – to help them with a leg-up in their new lives.”

Cheryl Cyr, director of housekeeping at Antares, with a bedroom suite that will be part of the donation. She worked a full week organizing all the donated items, and said she was "very happy about doing it."

Cheryl Cyr, director of housekeeping at Antares, with a bedroom suite that will be part of the donation. She worked a full week organizing all the donated items, and said she was “very happy about doing it.”

Many refugee families are already getting help from CMWI, and more are on the way. CMWI executive director Diane O’Neil said they are expecting 300 families to arrive this week, and up to 70 per cent of them will receive services from CMWI.

Diane is grateful to the City of Winnipeg for providing storage space for the massive donation until it can be distributed, and for labour from the Winnipeg Police Service. She invited Winnipeg’s Coun. Janice Lukes, chair of infrastructure renewal and public works and acting deputy mayor, to share the day.

Volunteer movers will include Syrian refugees and others from CMWI. Additional volunteer labour and transportation services are being provided by the Crystal Springs Hutterite Colony, while food to fuel the move is being generously provided by Food Systems Management.

CMWI helps about 500 people a month, on average, with services that include finding food and shelter for refugees and newcomers as well as language services, employment training, social and recreation programs and health and wellbeing services.

If you would like to volunteer or get involved with CMWI look for them online at www.cmwi.ca or call 204-943-8539.

Warm PJs, warm hearts.

Fuzzy suits headed for children after generosity finds PJ Drive.

The annual PJ Drive by the Manitoba Chiropractors Association (MCA) was a huge success, with over 2,700 sets of jammies collected by 32 participating chiropractic clinics.

“It’s such a nice thing. To think of all those children having a new set of jammies to snuggle into is really heartwarming,” said Hillary Gair, community involvement manager at United Way Winnipeg.

Mariah Baldwin (left), United Way community involvement associate, and Hillary Gair, community involvement manager, with a fraction of the 2,700+ sets of PJs collected by Manitoba Chiropractors Association members this year.

Mariah Baldwin (left), United Way community involvement associate, and Hillary Gair, community involvement manager, with a fraction of the 2,700+ sets of PJs collected by Manitoba Chiropractors Association members this year.

Gair said jammies have already been distributed to 25 United Way agency partners, with more going out this week.

“The PJ’s are so wonderfully cozy and will brighten the eyes of the children and warm the hearts of their parents,” said Diane O’Neil, executive director of the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute after getting their shipment of warm, fuzzy suits.

MCA’s Chelsea Perrault, who helps organize the drive, is thrilled with the outcome – almost double their goal of 1,500 sets.

“I can’t even put it into words. I was just overwhelmed with the number of pajamas our members collected this year…it left me speechless when Hillary sent me that email and said the grand total was over 2700 pairs.”

The annual PJ Drive was started by Suzanne Stitt of Natural Wellness Chiropractic Centre six years ago before MCA joined in three years ago.

The drive is over now for another year, but Gair said there are still lots of opportunities for groups looking to help out in the community.

“There are many ways for people to give back through United Way, including a collection drive or Day of Caring.”

For more information on group volunteer opportunities contact Hillary Gair at
204-924-4273 or hgair@unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca