YPSILANTI - A metro Detroit man is stepping up to help refugees who are leaving Syria for safer areas.
"This isn't a Christian, Jewish or Muslim tragedy. This is a human tragedy," said Sam Jawad, who is raising money for the refugees.
Jawad was celebrating his 35th birthday when he was moved by the heartbreaking image of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler who drowned while crossing the Mediterranean with this family. His body washed ashore on a Turkish beach.
It was a tragic representation of the biggest refugee crisis in almost 70 years.
"I've never had really images really hit me as hard as those did. At that moment, I knew words were not enough. Something had to be done," said Jawad.
Jawad decided to start a GoFundMe account hoping to raise $10,000 for Syrian refugees. He first turned to his friends on social media. Word quickly spread and Jawad raised about $15,000 in a little over a week.
"To my amazement, this really took off. I got a lot of feed back. I got a lot of people calling me up to tell me we should do more as a community, as a people," said Jawad.
Jawad's goal is to raise $25,000 to help the millions of refugees who have flooded Lebanon over the last few years, specifically orphaned children he feels are God's most helpless. He plans to visit the overwhelmed country next month to pass the donations to a credible organization.
"I want to be hands on deck. I want to see where the money reaches out to. I want to make sure that the most needy of people will get it first," said Jawad.
Jawad, who owns a junk removal company, is collecting furniture to help the thousands of Syrian refugees expected to arrive in metro Detroit within the year. His garage is already filled with donations. He has opened his warehouse for the rest.
"That hardship is more along the lines of where to live next? Where to work? How to get by? Whereas the people over there it's more life or death," said Jawad.
Jawad, who is a second generation Lebanese-American, no longer has family in the Middle East but his heart goes out to the desperate migrants trying to leave war-torn Syria. He says every little bit helps.
"I'm thankful to everybody that reached out with hearts, dollars and their belongings," said Jawad.
Jawad says the Lebanese Heritage Club is advising him on how to direct his charity mission.
If you are interested in donating to the Syrian Refugee fund, CLICK HERE.