Seven months after the first families from the war-torn country of Ukraine arrived in Manitoba, the co-chair of the Ukrainian Settlement Task Force of the southeast is very grateful to everyone that has helped the more than 80 families make southeastern Manitoba their new home.
Chris Goertzen says, “so many people have been incredibly generous, whether they're from Steinbach or anywhere in the entire region, people have been donating small items. They've been donating large items. They've been donating furniture and dollars towards helping people who are settling here from Ukraine. Thank you.”
Goertzen says there is one last donation drop-off event in 2022 happening on Tuesday, December 6 on the back parking lot of the Southland church, in Steinbach. He speaks highly of the volunteers from the area.
"Southland Church has been a great partner, but it's really been the entire community that’s helped out. Whether people go to church or whether they don't go to church, whether they go to Southland or not, it's been really great to see people want to contribute and participate.”
He says the Distribution Centre that was set up for this has been really busy. “It's been great because the newcomers need furnishings. They come with almost nothing, maybe only a suitcase full of a few things and they need to set up their whole house, and people have been really generous. It's been great working with Southland Church making that happen, helping make life a little bit easier for people fleeing war.”
Goertzen says it’s also been great seeing local businesses step up and donate what they can.
“We've had a great relationship with a number of businesses, whether it's Sobeys helping for food gift cards or Solomon Furniture helping with mattresses, there have been so many that have stepped up in small ways and big ways, doing what they can to make a difference in people's lives. They are all contributing to our community, and it's been great to see people just give them a little bit of a hand in a very difficult situation.”
Goertzen mentions that the war in Ukraine is still affecting a lot of families, and many need to leave loved ones behind. He notes, “certainly in the eastern part of Ukraine, where the war is taking place, those people are really struggling. We know that many people have left, many people are being forced to leave and the conflict is still quite severe. There are bombings almost every day. There are drones dropping bombs on people, homes, and businesses. We know that they are trying to persevere, and they are trying to look for the positives, and for those that are left there, we certainly think of them and those that are coming here we want to help them.”
There is one drop-off event left in 2022, Goertzen says that every donated household item is important. “We do see that we have a large need for, of course, mattresses which we try and purchase new for people to start out fresh with. But certainly, whether it's kitchen tables or other items that you don’t need in your home anymore, please bring them down to the Distribution Centre and we'd be happy to redistribute them to Ukrainian families in need.”
The final Ukrainian Settlement Task Distribution Drop-off event of the year is on Tuesday, December 6 from 5pm to 8pm follow the signs to the back parking lot of the Southland Community Church. Volunteers will be on hand to help collect your donations.
Goertzen notes, “We hope to get a lot of furnishings for newcomers, so they can set up their homes for the holiday season, and then we'll see what the new year holds. We continue to see people coming here. Families coming here, because life is very difficult in Ukraine and war is a tragic thing, we want to set up these families for success here in Steinbach, whether for a short time or a long time and people in this area have been really generous and very helpful.”
When it comes to 2023, Goertzen says, they will be announcing those dates soon.
*The mother and sons in the photograph are Tetiana and her sons, Sutunkin (4 years old) and Mukhailo (11 yrs old). Tetiana's sister, Viktoriia, also traveled with them to Manitoba from Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine.