Toronto couple Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian had their wedding set for March 2016 -- the venue, the caterer, everything was lined up.
In September, in the midst of their planning, Jackson and Yousefian came across the devastating photo of Alan Kurdi -- the 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned when he and his family attempted to make the trip from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos on a flimsy boat. The pair then decided to cancel their wedding and use the money they would have spent to help victims of the Syrian refugee crisis.
"We realized right away that our wedding would be a great opportunity to come together with our friends and family to support this cause, and transformed our wedding into a fundraiser with the hopes of helping a Syrian family start a new life in Toronto," Jackson told The Huffington Post.
Instead of the event they had planned, the pair said their "I dos" at Toronto City Hall on October 9. Afterwards, they hosted a low-key dinner and told their guests to donate money to Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge -- an organization that helps community members become private refugee sponsors -- in lieu of gifts.
“We just called the venue and the caterers and we told them our plan,”Jackson told Yahoo. “We said that we wanted to redirect our efforts towards this humanitarian crisis and they were immediately on board as well, which is great because they allowed us to cancel our existing reservation and refund our money to use towards this new cause.”
The bride has been working with the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge since June. The organization connects displaced Syrian families with private sponsors in Canada, who can help them with tasks such as finding an apartment or schools for their children.
So far, the couple has raised $17,500 toward their goal of $27,000.
If you would like to donate to this cause, please visit the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge donation page and select "Samantha Jackson & Farzin Yousefia" from the gift designation drop-down menu.