When Ukrainians fled their war-torn country earlier this year, many took only one or two suitcases.
And much of the clothing they packed didn’t include winter clothes.
“What can you put in a suitcase?” said Simon Lutsenko, a director with the group Slavic United Network (SUN). “They don’t have winter jackets, boots, gloves.”
SUN was formed by members of the Slavic Christians of Evangelical Faith church shortly after the war broke out. The church is based in Vernon.
“To date, it’s around 50 families but at least 170 people (who need help),” Lutsenko told Global News. “And we have more families on the way.”
To help the newcomers get through winter, SUN is holding a winter clothing drive this weekend, Nov. 26-27, in Kelowna at 470 Banks Rd.
SUN is looking for winter hats, socks, gloves, jackets, boots and thermal wear for adults and children.
“We all have an extra jacket, we’ll have an extra pair of gloves, you know, maybe the winter boots and just to show some love in the season,” said Lutsenko.
SUN is also hoping to collect blankets, towels, hangers, grocery store gift cards and monetary donations.
Tatiana Smirnova, who came to Canada in the spring with her husband and three children, told Global News through a translator that she’s incredibly grateful to the community and SUN for helping her family settle into their new life in Vernon.
The group has helped refugee families find living accommodations, furniture, clothing and other necessities, adding it has the community to thank for that.
“We’re very thankful to the community. Without the donations, you can only help so many people,” Lutsenko said. “So the community is helping and we’re able to help more people.”
SUN says its assistance will be ongoing, as more families are slated to arrive in the coming weeks and months.
“We have applications coming in every day,” said Lutsenko. “We have eight families that are ready to come. They’re just waiting for documentation.”
For more information on the Slavic United Network, or to make a donation, visit the organization’s website.