Fundraiser for Ukraine reaches capacity within hours

Thousands of donations are pouring in to support the Ukrainian victims of the Russian invasion.

Ottawa’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral Hall quickly filled up and reached capacity within hours after a humanitarian fundraising relief fund kicked off on Saturday.

“My car was fully loaded with food and clothing,” said Tony Matis, who drove from Kingston with his son-in-law to make the donation. “I’ve been losing a lot of sleep, seeing those children say goodbye to their parents and never knowing if they’re going to see their father again, it breaks me up.”

The Stand with Ukraine fundraiser was started by the Ottawa chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and a shipping company called Meest.

“We have really strong ties to both countries,” said Olga Waugh, who was dropping off a donation on Saturday. “My friend is Russian from Russia and I am a Russian person from Ukraine. Our hearts are breaking because of what’s happening.”

David Gamble was dropping off clothes.

“We see all these young women, with little babies, where they have kids and they have no where to go with no food,” he said. “It’s just incredible.”

The items were dropped off outside from idling vehicles, before being brought in to the hall by volunteers to be sorted and boxed.

“We are hoping to get the first shipment to Toronto on Sunday night or Monday,” said Olenka Bastian, the organizer of the fundraiser. “I believe in the next week they should be on a plane and over there.”

The donations include feminine hygiene products, toiletries, and military gear.

Volunteers received so much support that they had to start turning people away close to noon because they reached capacity within the hall.

“We are in the first day officially and we are at capacity,” said Bastian, who is a member of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. “It’s a good problem to have and I want to thank everyone.”

Organizers say they will be accepting donations until next Friday and items will be shipped based on priority. Needs change daily. The latest information can be found on the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Facebook page.

You can also make donations through the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.