HALIFAX — There is a growing outpouring of support as Canadians look for ways to express their grief and help after the Halifax house fire that killed seven children and left their father in critical condition.
Seven kids, aged between three months and 14 years, died in the fire early Tuesday. The children's father, Ebraheim Barho, remains in critical condition.
The scale of the tragedy for the young Syrian family who arrived in Nova Scotia in September 2017 as refugees has struck a chord with Canadians.
A GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $450,000 by late afternoon Thursday, with a $1-million goal.
A popular Halifax doughnut shop, Vandal Doughnuts, was donating the proceeds of its sales Thursday to the family.
"There was no hesitation when the news broke that we wanted to do something, and we felt this was the best way we could contribute back," said general manager Jonathan Imber.
He said more than 100 people were lined up in the falling snow Thursday morning, waiting for them to open.
The shop was sold out of thousands of doughnuts by the noon hour.
"Response has been humbling. It just shows you how much this affected everyone in the city, and everyone is pulling together," said Imber, adding a number of their suppliers had donated goods.
Peace By Chocolate had also donated cases of chocolate bars to assist with the fundraiser, he said.
The now-famous Antigonish, N.S., company was founded by the Hadhad family, who fled their home in war-torn Syria in 2012 and arrived in Nova Scotia with next to nothing in 2016.
Tareq Hadhad, CEO of the company, has said Peace by Chocolate aims to give back to the country that welcomed his family when so many nations were closing their borders to the Syrian plight.
The Barho family lived in Elmsdale when they first arrived in Nova Scotia and were embraced by residents there.
Rev. Catherine MacDonald, of Riverview United Church in Elmsdale, says a community vigil is being organized for Friday evening.
"They were such a big part of the community. The community rallied to get the family here. I think the reason it's touching people's hearts so much is that coming from Syria to a safer, better life — to end in this kind of tragedy," she said.
MacDonald said while individuals have been donating to the GoFundMe campaign, others are doing what they can to support the volunteers who are working with the family.
"The volunteers are running really ragged. We're providing some gift cards for gas, Tim Hortons, that kind of thing to allow them to keep on being present for the parents and the rest of the Islamic community that they've become familiar with," she said.
Meanwhile, a Halifax woman and her cousin have started an effort they hope will give people another way to show support for the Barho family.
In a Facebook post, Andrea Bennett encouraged people to display stuffed toys outside their homes.
"I am at a loss for the Barho family and I know as a community we all want to do something to remember the lives of those 7 beautiful children," she wrote.
"What if as a community tonight we place stuffed animals outside our doors in memory of the children, like the hockey sticks for the Humboldt Broncos players. What does everyone think?"
The idea has caught on, with stuffed toys seen on front steps and balconies near the scene of the fire.
— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton
The Canadian Press