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Toronto police officers lead holiday donation drive for Afghan refugees

Donations for Project Hope can be dropped off until Dec. 14 at 51, 53 and 31 Divisions.

Donations for Project Hope can be dropped off until Dec. 14 at 51, 53 and 31 Divisions.

Photo: Evan Mitsui/CBC

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Donations for Project Hope can be dropped off until Dec. 14 at 51, 53 and 31 Divisions

The shock of seeing Afghan refugees wearing sandals or no shoes after arriving in Toronto led two police officers to launch a community fundraiser.

Const. Farzad Ghotbi and Det.-Const. Mustafa Popalzai, launched Project Hope in 2021. Since then, it's only grown, with their community-supported effort making dozens and dozens of donations to refugees.

The two officers, who are Afghan refugees themselves, have collected truckloads of donations including toys, baby items, school supplies and even hockey equipment for families who are just arriving in Canada.

We realized we had to do something, whatever we can, to ensure we give back, Popalzai told CBC Toronto.

The reason we chose Project Hope is because as a refugee when you leave your country, you have nothing but hope.

Popalzai also came to Canada as a refugee from Kabul with his family in 2000 to flee the Taliban. His father was an artist who received death threats from the Taliban who had banned some forms of art and human photography.

The two officers are ramping up their efforts to collect more donations for Afghan refugees arriving throughout the holiday season. 

Here's some of what Project Hope is aiming to gather ahead of Dec.14:

  • School supplies (backpacks, stationary, lunch bags)

  • Baby care (diapers, wipes, strollers, baby formula)

  • Hygiene products (shampoo, deodorant)

  • Gift card (to be distributed directly to refugees)

  • New unwrapped toys

Any donations can be dropped off at one of three police stations: 51 Division (51 Parliament St.), 53 Division (75 Eglinton W.), or 31 Division (40 Norfinch Dr.).

CBC News

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