What do fresh cookies and local produce have to do with refugee resettlement? A booth staffed by Christians from Toronto-area churches will tell you that these treats and good eats are a great way to engage others in the conversations about the realities facing refugee families across the globe. As part of an ongoing joint effort with several Christian Reformed churches—Willowdale Community Church in Richmond Hill, Friendship Community in Toronto,andLOGOS Christian Reformed Campus Ministry—volunteers organized and manned the booth at York University's Farmer's Market on March 30 to raise funds for refugee resettlement.
At the booth they sold baked goods, knit items, and locally sourced fresh produce. Almost all the stock sold; the few remaining items were made available at Friendship Community Church with a free-will offering. The event raised $280, bringing the total funds raised through free-will offerings, BBQs, and film screenings to $26,000. And while the initial purpose was to raise funds, those running the booth soon realized that they were also raising awareness as students and faculty stopped by to find out how they could help with refugee resettlement and welcoming newcomers.
"It was a wonderful experience," said Jolin Joseph, of Friendship Community Church. "We were able to drum up some interest around refugee relief issues, as well as provide sustenance to students running to and from classes. People who came by the stall were very appreciative of the cause, and some even stayed to ask questions."
Garnet Bernard of Friendship Community Church intended to stay for a few hours but ended up staying the full day. Bernard, who has been part of the refugee resettlement committee since its inception, appreciated the helpfulness and interest of fellow vendors, who offered advice to these market novices.
"We learned how to price our wares and also how to package and sell them, should we endeavour to participate in the market in the future," said Bernard. "Overall, the interest that people had in the cause, whether or not they purchased any goods, was heartwarming."
At this time, the group is looking to run a booth again when the market starts back up again this fall.