Help for the homeland Ukrainian-Manitobans raising funds, shipping much-needed supplies to Ukraine

Members of the Ukrainian-Manitoban business community are taking action and shipping much-needed supplies to humanitarian groups in Ukraine.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/03/2022 (274 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Members of the Ukrainian-Manitoban business community are taking action and shipping much-needed supplies to humanitarian groups in Ukraine.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Anna Karpenko, centre, talks to a volunteer as they pack boxes of requested essentials at the Ukrainian National Federation Tuesday.

Zoya Kostetsky, 22, had plans to pack boxes of tactical and medical supplies for Ukraine on Tuesday evening. Her decision came after a whirlwind five days of raising $47,000 for humanitarian groups in her home country.

“It’s been a way for me to keep busy without just sitting on my phone and watching everything unroll and… feeling helpless,” Kostetsky, owner of Prairie Clay, said. “I’ve felt like I’m doing something.”

She’d decided to join other Winnipeggers — including entrepreneurs like Kalyna of Kalyna Ukrainian Book Shop — in the Ukrainian National Federation’s basement with boxes of donated goods.

Organizer Anna Karpenko posted on Facebook Sunday asking for people to donate supplies including thermal underwear, bandages, syringes, flashlights and other materials Ukraine’s defense groups need.

Within two days, around 100 30-kg boxes lined the UNF basement, Karpenko said.

A crew of at least 15 planned to sort the goods for shipment Wednesday.

SUPPLIED Zoya Kostetsky, pictured at the Scattered Seeds market last year, raised around $47,000 in five days for organizations supporting Ukrainians.

“It’s a lot (of donations), a tremendous amount, and a lot of help that Winnipeg (is) provid(ing) to Ukraine,” she said. “I was almost in tears with the amount of support.”

Meest, a freight company, will drive the parcels to Toronto, where they’ll be flown to Poland and trucked to Ukraine, Karpenko said.

The Red River Co-op employee contacts her family in the war-torn country regularly.

“I text them every day asking, ‘Are you still there? Are you still alive?’” she said. “The stories they tell me of destroyed buildings, people covered in blood, losing their legs (and) arms because of the shells and bombs — they don’t have enough supplies.”

She said she’s humbled by the number of donations.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Oksana Derbak delivers a box of requested essentials at the Ukrainian National Federation Tuesday.

Kostetsky was also shocked by the response to her call to action. On Thursday, she posted on Prairie Clay’s Instagram page — which has a following of around 5,100 — asking people to buy $10 raffle tickets. Her goal was $500.

“It seemed like a lot of money,” the clay earring maker said.

Then, the post shares and ticket sales grew. Over 200 artisans and local makers contacted Kostetsky to provide free goods for her raffle. She sold 4,008 tickets within three days.

“Friday was absolute mania, and so was Saturday,” Kostetsky said.

People donated up to $400 each to the cause. There have been recent donations, though Kostetsky held her raffle Sunday.

The Canadian Red Cross, Hospitaleri and Save Life UA are among the groups she has chosen to aid.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Within two days, around 100 30-kg boxes lined the UNF basement, Karpenko said.

Pinawa Motel’s owners say they will donate all their earnings — and salaries — to humanitarian causes in Ukraine, including the army’s fund.

“We are not doing this for the sake of advertising,” a social media post from the company reads. “We really want to help our country gain the long-awaited freedom from the tyranny of the Putin empire.”

Sevala’s Ukrainian Deli’s crew is in the process of bringing a staff member’s family to Canada. Del Demchuk, the company’s owner, said he’s also trying to track two Ukrainian children he sponsors.

“I’m curious to hear what the politicians are doing to help people like our employee who’s trying to get family over here,” Demchuk said.

SUPPLIEDZoya Kostetsky, pictured in her home city of Lviv, Ukraine in 2019.

He hadn’t noticed a significant increase in customers to his Ukrainian shop due to the war, nor had Baba Kays, Luda’s Deli or Kozak Food.

It’s not about a bump in business, Demchuk said — people’s focus should be on getting Ukrainians to safety.

Alexandra Shkandrij, curator of exhibits for Oseredok Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre, said her organization receives at least 20 calls and 20 emails daily from Manitobans looking to help Ukraine.

“The empathy is touching and their contributions are sorely needed,” she wrote in an email.

The Canada-Ukraine Foundation, the Red Cross, Save Life UA and the National Bank of Ukraine’s special account for the country’s armed forces are among charities worthy of donation, she said. Contacting local MPs and supporting Ukraine on social media helps, she added.

gabrielle.piche@winnipegfreepress.com

Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché
Reporter

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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