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At home and abroad: How a Calgary community organization is giving back

A Calgary grassroots organization is doing their part to help local and international communities through non-traditional forms of fundraising. 

YYC Aid, founded in April by Maziyar Dowlatabadi, has organized drives to raise awareness and funds for people in need. 

Dowlatabadi recognized a need to help out others and asked himself what he, and people in the community, could do to create positive impact. 

“We wanted to go beyond monetary donations,” he said. “Something that everyone can participate in.”

Dowlatabadi and his group organized a bottle drive throughout Calgary on Tuesday, June 30. They raised funds for the humanitarian crisis going on in Yemen. 

The fundraiser had several volunteer drivers who went around Calgary neighbourhoods to pick up bottles and drop them off at Confederation Park.

Because of his roots and family in the region, Dowlatabadi understands the importance of helping out an area that he believes sometimes gets overlooked.

Tuesday’s bottle drive fundraiser drew support from local organizations such as the Calgary Drop in Centre and the Foothills WFC 15 youth soccer team.

Dowlatabadi says the money raised from the bottle drive is expected to exceed $2,000.

Maziyar Dowlatabadi loads a truck with bags of bottles collected from his group’s fundraising drive on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. OMAR SHERIF / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Supporting locally and globally

Nancy McNair, a resident of Calgary who lived in Yemen, believes the country is not getting enough attention from around the world.


“The news wires are not getting the story out enough, about Yemen,” she said.

“They’ve gone through so much strife, they really need the help.”

Tuesday’s event was focused on helping the international community, but YYC Aid has also been involved with helping out locally. 

In April, the organization wrote personalised, hand-written letters to the homeless in Calgary. Dowlatabadi said it was an authentic way to show that we care.

“We wanted to support them, to tell them that we are there for them,” he said.

McNair praised Calgarians for their willingness to help their city while also looking out for other others in need. 

“That’s what’s great about Calgarians,” she said.

“They support their own, but they also give a lot globally.” 

Dowlatabadi has future fundraising ideas for his group, including creating and selling merchandise for a cause. 

He wants to continue raising funds for other global communities in need. Still, Dowlatabadi recognizes the need to help back at home. He’d like to help those who suffered damage to their properties during the hailstorm earlier in June. 

You can find the YYC Aid group and follow their future initiatives on Instagram at @yyc.aid.