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Lake Oswego resident Megan Tucker will spend Christmas helping desperate refugees in Macedonia



SUBMITTED PHOTO - Megan Tucker holds a young Syrian boy at a refugee station in Macedonia. The Lake Oswego resident will spend the holidays helping to provide warm winter clothing for people fleeing war-torn Syria.Megan Tucker did not set out for Macedonia to save children.

In fact, the Lake Oswego resident was only passing through on the latest of her excursions around the world. An inveterate traveler, Tucker once explored Mongolia on horseback.

But something happened on her latest adventure that altered the course of the trip —and changed Tucker’s life forever.

“By chance, I met a group of amazing locals who had spent the past several months helping refugees every night,” she says. “I was invited to the station on the border of Macedonia and Serbia, where refugees disembark trains and pause briefly before walking to Serbia. I brought 20 blankets and boxes of granola bars and chocolate eggs.”

Tucker continued to travel with her friends to the border station and camp, ready to meet trains carrying 600 to 800 men, women and children who had fled war-torn Syria in the hope of finding new homes in Serbia or Italy. From tables, distribution areas or trunks of cars, Tucker gave out winter clothing and food to refugees rushing off of the trains, helped them stay warm with homemade fires and did whatever she could to make their journey easier.

“I knew that a lot of children who were fleeing the wars were going to be subjected to freezing cold temperatures without proper protection,” Tucker said. “And that was not OK with me. So I wanted to do something about it.”

Each refugee carried a tale of tragedy. One of them was a little girl who caught Tucker’s eye at the border station.

“Her whole body was shaking with cold,” Tucker said. “Her clothes were wet from rain and the expression on her face was anger and hate. Not toward me or anyone in particular. Just toward life in general.”

The girl rebuffed everything Tucker did to help her. When Tucker tried to brush her hair from her face, the girl immediately pushed it back. When Tucker tried to put gloves on her freezing hands, the girl kept her hands stiff and did nothing to help. Tucker picked the girl up, took her to a heated shelter and tried to take off

her wet clothes. Again no response. But Tucker did not give up.

“I began doing some mimicry (copying her actions),” Tucker said. “She got right into it, and within minutes she was laughing, exuberant, flailing her arms about playfully, mimicking me with ease and fluency. She was giggling and smiling continuously while I warmed her up with my hands and breathed on her toes to get the chill out of them.”

Tucker returned home to Lake Oswego, but thoughts of the refugees never left her. And so she started a fundraising campaign that has raised $27,900 so far. Some of her Lake Oswego friends have been especially generous — and they think Tucker is amazing.

“We have a local gal that is a hero, in my eyes,” said physician Judith E. Allen. “Megan is just a regular Lake Oswego citizen, but she saw a need and stepped up to meet that need. I am so proud of her!”

On Friday, Tucker will be back in Macedonia, spending Christmas day handing out warm winter clothes to some of the most desperate people on Earth. The weather in Macedonia is getting colder, and waist-high snow is not unusual.

“I don’t want to stop until this crisis is over,” Tucker said, “but how long it is going to continue is hard to tell. What I do know is that there is a very real need for people in the world to pitch in any way they can to help others.

“Every action counts,” she says, “large or small.”

A coat can be purchased for about $5, Tucker says. A hat or a pair of mittens costs about 78 cents each; a dozen pairs of socks, $3.50.

“What that means,” she says, “is literally that $5-$10 could save a life.”

To make a donation, visit www.crowdrise.com/winterclothesforsyri. All of the money raised will go directly toward purchasing supplies, Tucker says — “no overhead costs, no bureaucracy, no delays.”

For more information on Tucker’s efforts, go to hhtp://www.facebook.com/winterclothessyrianrefugies.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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