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  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Seventh-graders from Towles New Tech Middle School, from left, Salma Vergara, Chloe Stouder and Grant Stone deliver a box of supplies Thursday afternoon to Melvin Cobb with Friends of the Third World.

Friday, March 02, 2018 1:00 am

Towles students help Syrian refugees

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Seventh-graders at Towles New Tech Middle School spilled into the hallways Thursday carrying boxes and shopping bags full of items often taken for granted – bath soap, shampoo, toothpaste and towels.

Navigating stairs inside and puddles outside, the students brought their haul to an awaiting box truck from Friends of the Third World, an organization that will help get the items to Syrian refugees.

The Fort Wayne Community Schools students, who learned about Syria and the Syrian refugee crisis, spent more than two weeks collecting supplies for relief kits, which also contain laundry soap, toothbrushes, fingernail clippers, bandages and sanitary pads.

Their efforts for the “We Are Syria” project resulted in enough items for more than 90 kits plus some extra supplies, said Tia McFarthing, who teaches with Sally Benjamin-Butler.

Last year's collection – the school's first – brought in about 60 kits.

Helping others outside Fort Wayne appealed to student Allison Brockhaus, who recognized the Syrians need more help than what she and her classmates could provide.

“There's so much going on, and they need way more help,” she said.

More than 5.4 million Syrians have fled the civil war-torn country since 2011, seeking refuge in such countries as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, according to UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency.

In Syria, the agency reports, about 6.1 million people are displaced, and 13.1 million people are in need.

At Towles New Tech, students were particularly moved by the conflict's affect on children and recently wrote postcards of hope to children in refugee camps, McFarthing said.

Student Salma Vergara, who helped two classmates carry a box to the truck, encouraged others to help those affected by the Syrian conflict. She described it as “really cool” to do something for people who don't have a “lot of hope to lean on.”

asloboda@jg.net