Students from the Algonquin police foundations program are volunteering their time to help refugees and other families in need, one couch and coffee table at a time.
“We’re not just giving people furniture, we’re giving people hope,” said Nathalie Maione, the president and co-founder of the organization Helping with Furniture. This organization is a non-profit charity aimed towards supplying furniture to homes of refugees, immigrants and other families in need.
Students from Algonquin have been co-operating with Maione and HWF for three years.
Maione describes her work as “wrapping up a household in a truck and delivering it as a gift.”
Volunteers typically meet on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. to pick up furniture from donors, store it and then deliver selected items to households in need.
Although there were returning volunteers in recent nights, many police foundations students were volunteering for the first time on Jan. 27.
“Now that we have this amazing co-operation with police foundations we never lack volunteers. We have a ton of young people that are always in a good mood, super enthusiastic, it’s changed the Wednesday nights completely,“ said Maione.
Most police foundations students originally heard of this opportunity from their program co-ordinator, Lisa Gerrard, through a Blackboard posting.
“It just sounded like a really good opportunity from the stories we heard from previous families that were delivered furniture,” Karissa Hart, a first-year police foundations student.
“We want to be police officers so we need to give back to the community,” said Abbas Ghandour, a first-year police foundations student.
Helping with Furniture initially started in 2005 by supporting newly settled refugees to Canada and now they are aiding any family in need in the Ottawa area.
Recipients of donations are typically referred by social service agencies, school boards, food banks and churches.
The most requested items are dressers and tables but HWF frequently delivers couches, beds and televisions among other things. Maione strives to only deliver matching furniture sets to recipients regardless of the additional effort it takes.