Stuy Town shop a hub for clothing drive for Syrian refugees

Amber Lewis, founder of Greater NYC Families for Syria, and Pratima Vijayakumar, donations leader, stand by a stuffed mini-van. (Photo by Maya Rader)

By Maya Rader

To a casual observer, two parked mini-vans on First Avenue on Saturday morning might have appeared to be owned by a hoarder, considering they were jam packed with bags of clothing, piled high against windows and ceilings.

The clothes, however, were all donated items and on Saturday, they were sent to the nonprofit NuDay Syria, which ships it into Syria and Beirut for Syrian refugees.

The donations (three van-loads in total) were collected, mostly from Stuyvesant Town families, as a partnership between Greater NYC Families for Syria and Stuy Town children’s clothing store Ibiza Kidz. Greater NYC Families for Syria is a group of mostly parents that collects clothing donations for Syrian refugees.

Amber Lewis founded Greater NYC Families for Syria in December 2016 by creating a Facebook page. The group soon gained a huge following.

Lewis said, “By our first meeting in January, we were an army of 1,000 people who care.”

It currently has a following of 1,600 people. Lewis, meanwhile, is a mother with a background in humanitarian affairs.

As she explained it, “I am trying to save the world from my laptop.”

She is not from Syria, nor has she even traveled to the country. But she explained that she feels a responsibility to help end the suffering there.

“I feel a moral responsibility to help those who have lost their homes, their families, their livelihoods and their country,” she said.

Carole Husiak, owner of Ibiza Kidz, came across the group’s Facebook page and noticed the difficulty people seemed to be facing with coordinating clothing dropoffs. So she volunteered her store to Lewis as a drop-off site.

“People came in waves and droves,” said Husiak.

This was the group’s first clothing drive, and there are more planned. To become a part of Greater NYC Families for Syria, join their Facebook page for updates and more information.

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5 thoughts on “Stuy Town shop a hub for clothing drive for Syrian refugees

  1. My apologies to those who felt excluded. I learned about the initiative through a friend who was collecting items in her home. I shared to the neighborhood moms group and the response was overwhelming, even with the store as a collection point. There will be another shipment going overseas in May or June I believe. We will try to coordinate and include a larger, more inclusive neighborhood group if we do another collection. In the meantime, check in to the groups FB page as items in need are updated frequently. There are many local refugees they assist as well.

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