A group of former refugees led by a White Rock man is working to raise $100,000 for humanitarian relief in Ukraine.
And if response seen in the first week – nearly $60,000 as of Thursday morning (March 25) – is any indication, it won’t be long before the goal is met, or even exceeded.
“My gut feeling is we’re going to get more than $100,000,” Tony Vuu said Thursday. “Within our group, we want it to be $200,000.”
Vuu, who has called the waterfront city home for the past two years, was moved to organize a fundraiser after watching the horrors that are unfolding during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I feel like I’m blessed to live a peaceful life. I look at people in Ukraine and I feel like… there are two different pictures, black and white,” he explained.
“That’s the reason I feel like I have to do something. Stand up and do something to help them.”
Vuu, who fled Vietnam as a child, said the idea was strongly supported by the other members of his group who have similar “terrible” memories and now call Vancouver and Surrey home. As former refugees themselves, “everyone within our community, they really like to get involved,” he said.
“I’ve done a lot of charity work, but I’ve never seen the momentum so strong. It’s so strong this time.”
He emphasized that the fundraiser would not be possible without everyone in the group pitching in.
“I feel so proud, they’re the main force behind me,” he said.
A charity banquet in Vancouver tonight (March 25) is a highlight of the campaign. Featuring a silent auction, live music and raffle, it’s set for the Pink Pearl Seafood Restaurant (1132 East Hastings St.).
Vuu said Thursday that VIP seats have sold out, but that there may still be a few regular tickets ($60) left in the hours ahead of its 6 p.m. start.
Anyone interested may email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-866-5533.
Donations to the fundraising campaign may also be made online, at vietbcassociations.ca, through April 30.
Proceeds will be donated to the Canadian branch of the UNHCR, The Refugee Agency – the same agency that provided aid to Vuu’s group “when we were most in need,” an explanation on the website explains
“We feel it is our duty now to fundraise and assist UNHCR in their efforts to give Ukrainians who need an urgent lifeline, give urgent medical aid, provide emergency relief and evacuation transport and bring food and shelter to those displaced civilians.”
Vuu said the support received so far has been uplifting.
“We won’t feel alone anymore,” he said.
“I feel like we’re working hard, but you feel like a hidden force push us from behind.”
Fundraising proceeds are to be presented to the UNHCR on April 30, which is the 47th anniversary of South Vietnam’s surrender.
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