Dal event raises funds for charity helping Ukrainian families resettle in Nova Scotia

- March 3, 2023

Attendees listen in during a presentation at a fundraising event at Dalhousie for The Ukrainian Store on Monday. (Staff photo)
Attendees listen in during a presentation at a fundraising event at Dalhousie for The Ukrainian Store on Monday. (Staff photo)

War has sped up the pace of life for many Ukrainians over the past year, especially those forced to pack up and flee their homes quickly as Russian bombs rained down. 

Seventeen-year-old Yaroslava Supenko understands this all too well. Shortly after the outbreak of conflict last February, three bombs fell near the home she shared with her mother and seven-year-old brother in the city of Kharkiv near the Russian border. 

Shocked and scared, Supenko and her family left for what they thought would be a quick spell away from home.

"I fit my whole life in one backpack within five minutes," said Supenko, who now lives in Halifax with her family. “Now, it has been more than a year. More than a year away from home.”

Supenko and other Ukranians shared their stories this past Monday as part of a Dal-hosted fundraising event for The Ukrainian Store, a local Halifax-based charity that offers furniture, clothing, bikes, and other essentials to Ukrainian refugees in need.

Supenko is one of the dozens of Ukrainians who have visited the store upon their arrival in Nova Scotia.

(Vanessa Jubis photo)

Helping others

A total of $1,545 was raised for the volunteer organization at this week's event, which was planned by Dal English language instructor Natalia Ivchenko and others in the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development.

Ivchenko, a 28-year-old from Kharkiv who also fled Ukraine last year, is one of more than 60 volunteers — most of them Ukrainians — who spare their time to serve The Ukrainian Store in its mission to help newcomers. 

The charity first popped up last winter when Haligonian Rick Langille and his wife, Sheila, canvassed their neighbourhood seeking donations of items they anticipated families arriving from Ukraine might need. The couple stored the donations in their home garage at first, but had to upsize to a storage facility and, later, a 3,000-square foot warehouse to fit all the items. 

Ivchenko first learned about the store when she visited it last year to pick up some clothes. She and other volunteers assist the store in picking up and delivering donations to families.

“I’m trying to help as many Ukrainian refugees as possible,” said Ivchenko, who served as MC of this week’s fundraiser, which also included a spread of traditional home-cooked Ukrainian food, snippets of Ukrainian history, trivia, and other personal stories.

A Ukrainian feast. (Vanessa Jubis photo)

Recommended reading: Dal researchers connect family in war‑torn Ukraine to safety in neighbouring Poland

A community emerges

The store, now led by Nanette Dean, will once again be on the hunt for space at the end of March as the temporary lease on its current warehouse expires. 

Langille, speaking on behalf of Dean at this week’s event, said that while the struggle for space continues, there’s already a lot to be thankful for.

“I know in my heart that this new family — The Ukranian Store — has created bonds, relationships and community here in Nova Scotia.”

Jeffrey Myers, director of community partnerships and projects with OLCD, celebrated the service provided by the charity on behalf of Dean Dr. Dianne Tyers.

“Part of our mission as the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development is to support our communities," he said. "We are here today to support and celebrate the best of humanity that has emerged here in our Halifax community: The Ukrainian Store.” 

Recommended reading: Twin sisters upended by war feel the love


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