TORONTO (Canada) – A Toronto couple recently canceled their big wedding to use the money instead to help sponsor a Syrian refugee family’s settlement into Canada. The money that would have gone to their reception or gifts is now being used to sponsor a family to come to Canada.

The Toronto couple was planning to get married next March. They had sent out the invitations, picked out a venue – an art gallery in Parkdale – and decided on a caterer. But in September, they contacted their friends and families and told them the wedding – as they knew it – was off.

Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian’s big March 2016 wedding — which they had been planning for over a year – was just months away when a photo of a little boy appeared and shocked the world. The photo “was a turning point, in the sense that we knew this was a perfect time to act, we wanted to build on the momentum of that photo. It was a tragic circumstance, and we couldn’t fail to act.” Yousefian told the officials.

“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 the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) News.

Their wedding reception doubled as a fundraiser. Fortunately for the couple, their original wedding venue refunded their deposit, which was also a big help toward their $27,000 fundraising goal.

Samantha said, ‘Once the decision was made to change the wedding plans, there was never any consideration about turning back’

Jackson has read stories in the news about anti-refugee sentiment and recent hate crimes against Muslims, including the beating of a Toronto woman and the burning of a Peterborough mosque. Jackson began working this year as the volunteer coordinator at Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, which works with other post-secondary institutions to help resettle Syrian refugees in the GTA.

So far, the couple was able to raise $17,500 of the $27,000 needed to sponsor a refugee family of four. Meanwhile, Canadian government issued a call for tenders for construction of temporary housing signaling a possibility of building refugee camps to handle the 25,000 refugees Canada promised to receive by the year end.

The couple are continuing their fundraising efforts. Donations can be made by visiting http://www.ryerson.ca/lifelinesyria, and selecting Yousefian and Jackson’s profile under “Fundraising Team Leads” in the “Team Leads” section.