Oliver, B.C., residents Greg and Kandus Thorp have organized a benefit concert in support of Ukraine.
Greg who has volunteered in his community for several years said he needed to direct his focus towards helping Ukrainians.
“With that in mind, I knew of one individual that could help me and that is my sister-in-law, Kandus. She’s brought together a team of people. We have been able to get Frank Venables auditorium at a reasonable price and put together this charity event for Ukraine,” said Greg, who is the concert coordinator.
“It has a very urgent need because there is a lot of damage … in Ukraine and the people are dealing with a lot of tragedy.”
The goal of the concert is to raise money for a number of charities that are supporting people in Ukraine and those who have recently fled the country.
“We would like to see our funds actually get into Ukraine to make a difference for people who are in bomb shelters and haven’t eaten for several days,” said concert organizer Kandus Thorp.
“Getting food into those bomb shelters to getting people rides to the border where once they are at the border, these agencies are supplying them with what they need. So that is really where our mission-critical focus is.”
For Kandus, the unfolding events hit home. She and her husband have traveled to Ukraine and Russia and still have friends there today.
“When this all started happening, immediately we were texting as those bombs were falling because we know people there,” she said.
“We were saying ‘Are you guys safe?’, ‘What’s happening?’ I was so moved by what was happening and so broken up over it because these are people we know, these places we have visited, and it is horrible.”
The concert lineup includes performances from local musicians Gina Williams and Kai Allen.
“I am very proud that I can be part of something like this. I like to use my voice and speak up about things that matter to me and things like this that affect people so deeply,” said performer Kai Allen.
Allen is of Ukrainian heritage and although the family has been in Canada for generations, there is still a strong connection to what is happening overseas.
“My Great-Grandfather moved here from Ukraine and Ukrainian culture has always been a big part of my life. And so, hearing about what’s happening in Ukraine is personally devasting.”
Admission to the concert is free and attendees will have the opportunity to select from several Canadian charities, including ADRA Canada, to donate towards.
There will also be items for auction and for sale by donation.
“We have been so impressed with the community, in such a short window of time it has completely embraced this project,” said Kandus Thorp.
“A lady is bringing a couple of big art pieces from the Sagebrushers, which is the local art community, for a silent auction. I have a lady in West Kelowna who is an incredible seamstress, she is sending down a whole bunch of placemats, table runners, and a beautiful quilt for auction. And there is also a local Ukrainian woman who is baking Ukrainian bread.”
The organizers said they will have “have no doubt” that the community of Oliver will step up to support Ukrainians through this event. “I have high expectations for our community. I believe that we will fill this auditorium up, it has a seating capacity of just over 300,” said Greg Thorp.
“For those that are able to come, come early. They will have an amazing evening, it will be exciting, compassionate, and powerful.”
The concert is Saturday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Venables Performing Arts Centre in Oliver.