By Mike Anderson
Despite its diminutive size – fewer than 50 parishioners – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Archangel Michael in Bradford is mobilizing to help raise humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine.
According to Parish President Patricia Revell, the church is accepting financial donations, cash only, to help purchase much-needed medical and military supplies, including first-aid kits, helmets, body armour and backpacks.
But it will also take clothing donations, preferably new, for the Ukrainian military, including green, dark blue or black T-shirts, sizes M, L, XL, men’s underwear (M, LX), and men’s socks.
The church, located at 721 Simcoe Rd., has a donation drop-off that’s open from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and those who want to make a cash donation should call Father Petro Anhel at 905-715-0105.
The church’s deliveries are being facilitated through Meest-Corporation Inc., which provides logistics and freight forwarding services to Eastern Europe.
While clothing donations are appreciated, Revell says financial donations will make the biggest impact right now.
“Financial donations allow the Meest-Corporation and Ukrainian Federation to purchase medical and military supplies and ship them ASAP,” said Revell, whose mother has relatives in Lviv, which has so far been spared from much of the fighting.
While some Ukrainian churches across Canada have sponsored volunteers to join the fight to protect Ukraine, Revell admits their parish is too small and doesn’t have the financial resources to help pay for the travel costs.
Revell says the majority of the congregation, made of immigrants from Ukraine, Russia, Moldavia and Greece, come and pray and lead a peaceful life in their new home and never would have imagined that this could happen.
“They are truly devastated, worried and broken-hearted to know that their families are suffering, dying and losing their homeland to destruction,” she said.
“It’s an absolute tyrannical invasion. Ukraine has its own culture, its own language. It’s unimaginable that anybody in 2022 can walk into a peaceful country and decide that they’re going to claim it for themselves and be killing innocent people who have done nothing.”
Revell says the parish is very grateful for the support that Canada has provided Ukraine, especially the Canadian Armed Forces that helped train the Ukrainian military after Russia annexed Crimea.
She also wants to acknowledge the Canadian telcos, like Bell, Rogers and Telus, who have waived long-distance charges until the end of March so families can stay in touch with relatives in Ukraine.
“The families at our church have so many family members over there, and they’re talking every day. We’re very thankful to the telecommunications companies for allowing this to continue,” she said.
While Revell says the congregation understands why NATO is hesitant to provide a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine, it would like to see more support on the ground for the Ukrainian military, including more effective weaponry.
Revell also says families have complained that Canada’s refugee process is too complicated.
“Not only is the paperwork process tremendously difficult, but the refugees are required to arrange and pay for their own transportation,” she said.
“While there are several families that have stepped up and offered to support refugees, it is a daunting and complicated process with regards to the visa and work permit components.”
Still, Revell is thankful for the support Ukraine has received from Canadians.
“We are grateful that the country of Ukraine is being supported in the way that it has. Just watching TV or being on Facebook or Instagram or anywhere, you can see there are people from every walk of life supporting these people, supporting that country, and praying that this war ends. And it’s quite touching to see.”
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