Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian had their wedding all planned out. They had a date, caterers, thousands of dollars to spend and invitations in the mail, but then they cancelled everything.
The Canadian couple made the decision after seeing pictures of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi's body washed up on Turkish shores. As they were for millions all over the globe, those pictures were heartbreaking for Jackson and Yousefian. But instead of wallowing in their pity, the couple did something about it.
"We thought this really has to be an opportunity for us to really use our wedding as a platform, as a way to make a difference alongside our friends and family in what has obviously become an absolutely outstanding humanitarian crisis," Jackson told CBC News.
So they cancelled their big, expensive wedding plans and instructed guests at a much smaller wedding in city hall to donate money instead of gifts so they can help sponsor a Syrian refugee family. With the donations and the wedding funds, the couple hopes they can give a refugee family the helping hand they need as they make a transition to life in Canada.
"When there's such a dire situation, it's easy to become overwhelmed about thinking of ways to contribute," Yousefian said. "We just thought, 'Wait a second, there's a better way to do this. Given the circumstances, we need to turn the focus on the crisis and raise awareness and funds.'"
It takes $20,000 to sponsor the Syrian family of four, and as of late November the couple had already raised about $13,000. And if you're looking for a reliable way to help, this couple may make an ideal candidate: Jackson is currently a PhD student at Ryerson University and in the field of refugee healthcare policy. She also volunteers with the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge.
To help them, simply go here and choose their name from a drop-down selection to donate.