A group of Ukrainian refugees received a warm welcome in the community on Saturday.
Nine families, comprised of about 30 individuals, received donations of pants, socks, T-shirts, dress shirts, hats, toques, gloves and mittens, raincoats, sleeping bags, shoes, boots, vests, and heavy winter jackets – all items from The North Face clothing company.
The items were distributed from the basement of Maple Ridge city councillor Ahmed Yousef’s own house.
Yousef is also the community and government liaison on the Ridge Meadows Ukrainian Welcoming Committee and charter member of the Rotary Club of Golden Ears Sunrise that partnered together to distribute the items.
This isn’t the first time Yousef has worked with The North Face – the company also donated clothing to help flood victims in Abbotsford and Merritt.
He said all donations were brand new.
“Still in the plastic bags, never used with tags on,” he said. And, he added, everyone was happy to receive the goods, expressing their gratefulness and gratitude as they shared stories about how they have been welcomed into the community.
A couple of the refugees told him how they work in the community and even though their grasp of the English language is not great, but that their coworkers work with them to make sure language is not a hurdle.
Another gentleman, noted Yousef, who speaks next to no English, has been thoroughly accommodated by staff at the store at which he works.
And yet another lady told him that even when she is at a grocery store and people find out she is Ukrainian, she feels like a celebrity.
“I get hugs, I get compliments, thumbs up, some people offering prayers, all kinds of support,” she told Yousef.
Yousef is expecting more refugees as they get the word out that they are not only giving out clothing, but putting refugees in touch with the Friends In Need Food Bank to get much needed food, and sharing with them numerous employment opportunities with local companies and organizations. They have also been in touch with the provincial government for language training opportunities.
They are still welcoming financial donations to cover the costs of required medical exams like chest X-rays and blood work, explained Yousef, that the refugees need to come into Canada. They also need to cover some transportation.
“While we do have a transportation team that looks after people being transported to the appointment that they need to get to. In some cases volunteers are not available so we would hire a taxi,” he said.
While they are not looking for any clothing donations, Yousef noted, they do need housing.
One of the refugees that the groups helped was wheelchair bound and they struggled to find an accessible accommodation.
And also cheap daycare so parents can go to work.
For more information go to facebook.com/rmuwc.
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