At a December 31 press conference, Governor Peter Shumlin acknowledged South Burlington High School students Dina Alsaffar, Kiran Waqar and Lena Ginawi for their efforts to help Syrian refugees. 

Students Organize Blanket Drive for Syrian Refugees

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Thursday January 07, 2016

Kiran Waqar and Lena Ginawi, tenth graders at South Burlington High School (SBHS), are heading up a community wide event: a blanket drive to benefit Syrian Refugees. New or slightly used fleece blankets will be sent to Northern Syria through a New Hampshire based non-profit organization called NuDay Syria. Waqar explains, “These blankets will very much help Syrians who need all the help they can get at this time. By donating blankets we are doing many things. We are providing some warmth to brace against the cold, showing kindness and that people do care by extending our hands as a community and allowing NuDay Syria to use their money elsewhere to help this cause.” Blankets and warm clothing will be collected through the 12th of February. This drive will be a great way to reach out to those who need help.

Large numbers of people have been leaving Syria as war and destruction have escalated. The UN estimates that 6.5 million people have fled. “All our containers go to Northern Syria and are distributed to women and children in dire need. Blankets are much needed,” the founder of NuDay Syria describes. Ginawi and Waqar hope to collect 500-1,000 blankets in their drive to make a large difference for many refugees.

Waqar and Ginawi are working hard to recruit members for their team and spread the word about the event. They are trying to raise awareness through different newspapers and the local news as well. They have also made a Facebook page titled “Syrian Donations 2015-2016” for anyone who wants to be updated on their progress. SBHS students Dina Alsaffar, Ali Barritt and Julia Marlin have joined the effort through the high school’s Coalition for Community Service (CCS) program.

Waqar and Ginawi can be reached through the SBHS CDC Coordinator Nancy LaVarnway at More information can be found on the sponsoring organization’s website,

Anyone in the community can donate. All they have to do is drop off their fleece blankets through February 12th at either the entrance of the South Burlington Community Library or in the SBHS lobby during lunches. Monetary donations in the form of checks can be made out to SBHS CCS Blanket Drive. This event will make a real difference in the community and will be a great help to those in dire situations.

SOURCE: Frankie Karnedy, SBHS CDC Correspondent