Prince Albert Ukrainian club looking for donations as it prepares for Independence Day

Prince Albert residents gather in Memorial Square outside City Hall to celebrate Ukraine Independence Day on Aug. 24, 2022. – Herald file photo

Prince Albert’s Ukrainian Culture and Heritage Club is hosting an event to mark Ukraine Day of Independence on Thursday.

Members of the public are encouraged to join the club in Memorial Square, starting at 5 p.m., to reflect on and bring awareness to Ukraine’s continued fight for freedom.

Sonya Jahn leads volunteer efforts to settle newcomer families in Prince Albert.

So far, she said, they’ve assisted 91 families. Jahn is expecting eight more families to arrive in the city soon.

Jahn said volunteers have set up a store of donated items, where newcomers can shop for free as they’re setting up their homes.

“This little store is named after my mom, who was only three years old when she came to Canada. It’s called Sophie’s closet,” she said.

“It’s like history repeating itself now with these new families that are arriving. Ironically, something that is very special to my heart, is that we have a little Sophia that has come to Prince Albert.”

Jahn said, so far, she has nothing for the eight families set to arrive in Prince Albert. The club is looking for donations of furniture, such as tables, chairs and couches. Five families are also expecting babies, and are needing cribs, strollers and safety-approved car seats.

To arrange donations of these larger items, contact Jahn at (306) 930-9721.

They’re also looking for new or like new blankets, sheets and towels, which can be dropped off at Alana Ross’ office.

Financial donations, which go towards grocery gift cards and beds, can be made to Calvary United Church. The club will be accepting monetary donations on Thursday, with donations over $20 eligible for a tax receipt.

They’re also collecting hygiene items at the event, like soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and full-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Jahn said these items are used for welcome baskets when they first arrive.

“These families arrive with only one suitcase and, therefore, they are starting their lives all over again, leaving behind everything that they’ve worked hard for back in Ukraine,” she said.

Jahn said newcomers are adjusting well to their new lives, and are especially eager to work. However, she said, they continue to face language barriers and can’t always get into English classes right away.

“They bring their culture, the arts, their beautiful culinary skills. All of these people are very well educated – they’re bakers, they’re engineers, they’re doctors.”

According to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, more than 170,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Canada so far this year.

Ukraine Day of Independence commemorates its declaration of independence in 1991 from the Soviet Union.