In February 2022, Russia launched an invasion on Ukraine, causing widespread destruction in the country. As a result, many have been forced to leave their homes, embarking on long and unpredictable journeys towards safety. As of July, at least 12 million have fled Ukraine. Over 40,000 Ukrainians are expected to arrive in Ontario alone by the end of the Summer. Many of them have been coming with little to no money, personal belongings, or even contacts. To expedite Ukrainians’ travel into Canada, they are arriving under an emergency travel program. This however means that they are considered temporary residents and are unfortunately ineligible for the type of support and resources that would be typically afforded to them as refugees. The Government of Canada has called on Canadians to support Ukrainians aiming to settle in Canada. In response to this crisis, YSP has collaborated with the Women’s Federation for World Peace Canada and the Ukraine Canadian Medical Association of Ontario Foundation (UCMAO) to aid refugees through the collection and distribution of care packages.
From April to June, volunteers from all three organizations met twice a month with Ukrainian volunteers at the Holistic Medical Clinic in the Dixie neighborhood of Mississauga to organize and package donations received. Dozens of volunteers, that included concerned citizens, high school and university students, refugees, and medical staff, offered their time to help organize donations. Care packages created contained hygiene items, food, toys, clothing, and other household items. Most donations were from individuals but many were received from colleges, Toronto Police Service, grocery stores, communities, and churches. Home Depot provided 2 skids of boxes. Packages were custom made based on the family and their needs. Refugees then arrived on a weekly basis to pick-up items. YSP raised $1700 in tax-deductible donations which was spent on packaging and additional items that were urgently needed.
Food was provided from a food drive organized by UCMAO and Centennial College while the rest of donations were dropped off by individuals. Over 143 Centennial College student volunteers showed their support during one weekend to collect, organize, package, and deliver over 10,000 pounds of much needed food. A portion of that was delivered by plane to Ukraine with the rest handed out with the care packages.After achieving our goal of supporting 1000 refugees with over 400 care packages, our project has moved on to focus on distributing 40 pallets of new bedding items that were generously donated by Casper. All of this has eased the transition of Ukrainians arriving in the GTA who have already undergone a long journey from their home. We thank all the volunteers and donees that made this project possible as well as wish the best for the swift transition of Ukrainians making Canada their home for the time being!