Niagara brothers and sisters do their part to help their compatriots in Ukraine
If he could, Dmitry Zakharchenko would likely stand with his childhood friends, taking up arms to defend his beloved Ukraine against an invading Russian army.
But instead, the former elite-level hockey player is doing what he can to help on the other side of the world. He and his sister Daria have been collecting items to send to Ukraine and encourage anyone who can to help support the many agencies on the ground in the war-torn country.
“That’s the goal at the moment, although I have a little bitterness for what is happening in my home country. I understand that I would be worth a little more help here rather than coming back and myself. beat there,” the 23-year-old said.
When the initial shock of the invasion wore off, he and Daria quickly thought about what they could do. With the help of Pig Out Catering, they collected items to send overseas. Most of it was first aid items: bandages, medicine, gauze, etc. The response was incredible, with Dmitri filling his Toyota Rav4 to the brim.
“It’s been cool to see people come together in the first week of grief and the hurt that’s been going on,” he said. “It’s quite beautiful to see people coming together like this, even though we are on the other side of the world, Ukrainians living here and helping not only our family, but the whole country and the Ukrainian nation.”
Dmitri and Daria still have family and close friends in Ukraine, including their parents and three of their grandparents.
“Obviously it costs them mentally. It’s been three weeks, you know, that I’ve been sitting at home, moving from an apartment to a bomb shelter, from an apartment to a bomb shelter,” Dmitri said.
With the help of Meest, a Toronto-based shipping company of Ukrainian origin, the siblings were able to ship shipments to Europe for free. The items went to Poland and were dispersed to needy areas in Ukraine. But given the high shipping costs, while they are still collecting items, Dmitri is encouraging people to donate directly to agencies on the ground in Europe.
He is also preparing to help when the inevitable influx of refugees begins to arrive in Canada.
Dmitri started playing hockey at the age of three and came to North America as a teenager to try to make a career out of it. He played AAA Tier 1 Elite hockey in Arizona, adapting to the Junior Coyotes. However, his career eventually stalled in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he found his way to Niagara, where he goes to school and works to become a permanent resident.
Canada may be his new home, but he and Daria are still very Ukrainian at heart. Dmitry said Kyiv is a beautiful, world-class city and Ukrainians are a very proud and courageous people, as evidenced by their fierce defense against a much larger Russian army.
He said he spoke to friends back home who volunteered to help with the effort and sent him photos of themselves with guns and ammunition, ready to do what they must.
Even if he sees images of hockey rinks on which he has already played razed by Russian bombs, he is proud of the courage his compatriots have shown. And he is confident that Ukraine will eventually repel its invaders.
“We will defeat them. It’s a question of time. Unfortunately, the losses that are happening right now are a high price for Ukraine’s freedom,” he said.
For those who want to help, Dmitri suggested how-to-help-ukraine-now.super.site, which offers tips for people based in the country. On its website, Charity Intelligence Canada offers three tips for those who want to help: use secure sites for credit card transactions, opt for larger one-time donations, and choose to donate cash instead of items. .
Some charities recommended by both sites include: the Canada Ukraine Foundation, Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross.