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Small donations, big camp dreams

Adam Grotsky (Artsci’16) and student-run We for Refugee present Syrian families with funds to send children to day camp.

Last year, when the world began to realize and acknowledge the scale of the Syrian refugee crisis, Adam Grotsky (Artsci’16) immediately knew he wanted to do something to help.

A former president of the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS), Mr. Grotsky was finishing his political studies degree and volunteering in several capacities, when discussions with students spurred the idea to get more involved in support and relief efforts.

Adam Grotsky (Artsci'16) started We for Refugee during his final year as an undergraduate to raise funds for refugee families in Kingston.

“News coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis really opened my eyes to the extent of the turmoil and devastation in the region. I wanted to join the other Queen’s and community groups who were reaching out to help refugees coming to Kingston,” says Mr. Grotsky, who is hoping to attend law school in the fall. “The student community at Queen’s is very special and unique, and there was a definite urge to fundraise and play a role.”

Now, after a months-long fundraising and education campaign that led to the formation of We for Refugee, Mr. Grotsky and fellow volunteers are preparing to present several refugee families in Kingston with funds to send their children to day camp this summer.

In total, the group raised $1,000 – most of it in small donations from undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, staff and faculty, along with one larger contribution from PSAC 901, the union of teaching assistants, teaching fellows and post-doctoral scholars at Queen’s.

“The funds came from so many different people. It really shows how much the community cares,” says Mr. Grotsky, who emphasized that the efforts were as much about education and awareness as fundraising. During the school year, more than 60 volunteers participated in outreach activities, including a swimming program with refugee families at the YMCA and a childcare program at literacy and language non-profit LINC.

Mr. Grotsky says he and other volunteers believed the day-camp idea was a great way to have a lasting impact. “We had all benefitted personally from camp experiences as children, and since most of the basic needs, such as clothing and housewares, had been met, we thought this would be the best use of our fundraising.”

We for Refugee is in the process of selecting the families who will receive the day camp funding, and which camps the children will go to. ASUS Camps is partnering with We for Refugee to offer several camp spots at reduced rates.