Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX for SAFE reaches $100,000 fundraising goal

May 2nd, 2017
StFX students Kohlin (back left) and Kristian (back right) Rasenberg celebrate at the "Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow" fundraiser with members of Kristian's Antigonish Minor Basketball team who were ushers and emcees at the ceremony.

Only weeks after reaching the $70,000 milestone in its fundraising target of $100,000, StFX for SAFE has surpassed its goal. At a fundraiser on April 27, SAFE treasurer Sheila Sears announced the event raised more than $8,000. Then she astonished the audience when she reported a $20,000 anonymous donation brought the StFX for SAFE total to over $100,500.

The news brought the audience to their feet and StFX education student and StFX for SAFE co-chair Kristian Rasenberg to tears. "This means SAFE will be able to sponsor another Syrian refugee family," he said.

The fundraiser happened at Immaculata Hall where education students and brothers Kristian and Kohlin Rasenberg had their long hair cut to complete the “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow” campaign. The event was paired with Majd Al Zhouri’s performance of “To Eat An Almond,” a play written by StFX alumnus, Brendan Ahern, about Mr. Al Zhouri’s experience of escaping bombs and bullets in Syria as a teenager. The pairing of these events was done to raise awareness about how peace for millions of Syrians has been lost due to the six-year long Syrian war, organizers say.

“I am very proud to be a part of such a caring community,” says sociology professor Dr. Norine Verberg, co-chair of StFX for SAFE, a campaign established by a diverse group of students, staff, faculty, unions, and local alumni with a goal of raising $100,000 for the local settlement group called SAFE, or Syria Antigonish Families Embrace. 

“This really has been an incredible story of community generosity and the Xaverian sprit. We hoped the fundraiser would push us up to $80,000, so seeing our efforts capped off by this incredible $20,000 donation brought joy to the many people who have contributed to the StFX for SAFE campaign in all sorts of wonderful ways.”

The money raised by StFX for SAFE since November 18, 2015 will sponsor two Syrian refugee families. One sponsorship application was submitted last summer. The second will go in soon, now that SAFE has the money in the bank.

She says two Syrian youth, Tareq Hadhad and Mr. Al Zhouri, have been involved in the StFX for SAFE campaign all year, both bringing great energy to the cause, both happy to have a chance to help others.

They are the first Syrian refugees to study at StFX after their families were settled in Antigonish by SAFE.

According to Dr. Verberg, "Their stories and friendship have been inspirational for everyone."

When asked if he had anything else to add, Kristian Rasenberg said, “Yes. It’s what we’ve been saying all year: Never doubt that every kind gesture, big or small, builds lives."

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