Inspired by generosity 40 years ago, Surrey businessman gives groceries to Syrian refugees

When Tony Singh was 10, a neighbour invited his immigrant family to dinner. Now, he’s passing on that ‘special feeling.'

Fruiticana founder Tony Singh is giving away hundreds of grocery baskets to Syrian refugees.

SURREY — A Surrey grocery store chain owner is providing Syrian refugees with free groceries, inspired by an elderly lady’s generosity to his family 40 years ago.

Fruiticana founder and president Tony Singh has for the past 10 days been delivering free baskets of food to Syrian refugees as they arrive, and will deliver more today (Thursday) in Guildford and onward.

Some 500 Syrian refugees are expected to benefit from his generous gesture.

“Actions that are positive help build communities and produce positive results,” said Singh, who employs 500 workers at 18 grocery store locations in B.C. and Alberta. “If 600 show up, we will provide.”

Eight stores are in Surrey.

“I became a successful businessperson and Canadian because of a simple and powerful message,” he said. “I am sure many of these refugees, especially the children, will go on to make many positive contributions to Canada in the future.”

Singh recalled arriving as a new immigrant to Canada in 1975, when he was 10 years old, and a neighbour’s generosity on his second day here. His family came from Punjab and were living in an apartment in Toronto at the time. They didn’t speak a word of English.

“Our neighbour invited us over for dinner,” he recalled. “The simple gesture had such a profound impact on me and my life. It showed me what it means to be Canadian. I wanted to pass on that same special feeling to these Syrian refugees arriving in Canada.”

Singh hopes his gifts today of grocery baskets will inspire the refugees “to one day become great Canadians.”

Decades have passed and Singh doesn’t remember much about the trip from India to Canada but their next door neighbour’s generous act was indelibly impressed on him. He even remembers what they ate – a slice of pizza, and a popsicle.

“That’s the memory that stuck with me, after 40 years.”

Singh opened his first grocery store in Surrey in 1994. Today,  his chain enjoys annual sales surpassing $100 million. He has received numerous honours, as recipient of Surrey Board of Trade’s Businessperson of the Year award, the Premier’s People’s Choice Award for 2014 Business BC Awards, and other accolades.

Each package, he said, contains enough food to feed five people for about a week and contain groceries familiar to the recipients – chick peas, pita bread, olives, cheeses, yoghurt, flour, milk, juice and cookies. They will also contain treats for the children, in tribute to the popsicle he enjoyed as a boy.

“There’s enough food to last a week or even more,” Singh said. “So there’s something in the fridge to eat, right away.”

Singh said the Syrian refugees “should receive the same kindness” he was met with, as a boy.

“That’s what Canada is all about.

“Be helpful,” he advises. “Try to help any immigrant integrate into Canada. Help to make them what you are.”

tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

Just Posted

Surrey, Santa Claus is coming to town with lighted trucks

Special events in Cloverdale and Surrey Civic Plaza on Dec. 2

A ‘Peter Pan’-to opens in Surrey this week, and tickets are being snapped up

Show at Surrey Arts Centre is produced by FVGSS, A Musical Theatre Company

Fire destroys home in Surrey

Crews called at 3 a.m. Sunday for a residential house fire on the 12000-block of 100 Avenue

Operation Red Nose returns for 17th year in Delta, Richmond

Last year the program saw 358 volunteers come together to offer rides to those in need

Mariners, Orcas win Fraser Valley volleyball championships

South Surrey senior teams to head to provincial championships next week

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Canada Post ‘cooling off’ period won’t resolve postal dispute, says CUPW

CUPW national president Mike Palecek says the union isn’t holding rotating strikes to harm the public

Calgary city council votes to shut down bid for 2026 Winter Games

More than half of those who went to the polls voted ‘no’ to bidding for the games

Union offers support following B.C. mine death

Death of B.C. mine worker described as a wake up call for industry

Canadian Armed Forces to change approach to sexual assault investigations

New program aimed at a more open and transparent process, will consult with civilians, health and law professionals

‘N’ driver clocked going 51 km/hr over the speed limit

Port Moody police say the car was sent to the impound lot

Death of 38-year-old Fernie man at B.C. coal mine under investigation

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning

Breathing polluted air during pregnancy may increase odds of baby having autism: SFU study

Study looked at nearly all births in Metro Vancouver between 2004 and 2009

Most Read