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Providing warmth to Syrians

Thursday, Dec. 5 | By Julie Taylor
--Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Nicole Layton, Adam Rawlins, Jake Layton, Tyson Layton, and David Rawlins sort some of the hundreds of blankets that will be sent to Syria.
Final donations accepted on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 9 to 11 a.m. at 585 Fauquier Rd, Warrenton, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

More than 600,00 Syrians are seeking refuge in Turkey from Syria's civil war; over 400,000 of them are not in refugee camps, according to a Reuters article by Humeyra Pamuk.

"We saw pictures two weeks ago. Just rows of tents, people showing up at the camps with whatever they could carry", said David Rawlins. "They probably didn't grab their blankets and sleeping bags." The church Rawlins belongs to is part of a larger effort to supply the Syrian refugees with warm blankets.

"It's our duty to care for the poor and needy even though they're thousands of miles away," said James Outzen, who is organizing the Warrenton congregation's efforts. The blanket drive was started when Scott York, Loudon County board of supervisor's chairman, visited Turkey. He saw first hand the desperate need, and decided to establish a blanket drive back in Virginia.

"They discussed what they would be able to do to assist the refugees. [There were] two pressing needs-- flour, and blankets so they would have warmth," Outzen said. "It's a young refugee camp, not a lot of infrastructure. York is a member of the church, and has rallied about 50 congregations to join the effort. Not only have the members brought in blankets, but the people outside the church have been bringing in new and gently used blankets.

"We've been delighted at the community response. Grateful for the generosity of Fauquier County," Outzen said. So far, the Warrenton church alone has seen hundreds of blankets donated.

"We don't know where they came from or where they're going. We just knew there was a drive so we came to help," said Adam Rawlins. In addition to volunteering time, and giving blankets, some of the young ladies of the Warrenton congregation hand made quilts.

"During this time of thanksgiving this really is an opportunity to reflect on our own blessings and serve those that need our help," Outzen said. "We appreciate any help we can receive from the community on it." Outzen estimates that his church, combined with the 50 area congregations will donate several thousand blankets.

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