Dozens of Ukrainians families, some who are facing a second Christmas away from their homes, have been treated to a free shopping spree by a group of local volunteers in Kelowna.
Hearts & Hands 4 Ukraine held a holiday toy drive, raising $25,000 worth of gifts and gift cards for children and youth of displaced Ukrainian families living in the Central Okanagan. Their parents gathered on Sunday to choose presents.
“I have four kids and Christmas is their favourite holiday. I received a gift for them, a very good gift, and I think they will be very happy, “ said mom Oksana Banchuk. “I am very thankful for people who organized this, who participated in this event, and I wish for them many happiness.”
“It’s the best feeling for us to be part of your families and give back in a way, and make things special for you. Especially being here in Canada. I hope it has felt like a very welcoming country, regardless of where your background may be from. I think that’s the most beautiful things about Canada, is that we can all come together,” Hearts & Hands volunteer Navjit Khun told the parents.
City councillor Mohini Singh was among those who helped organize the toy drive and shopping day.
“The families were so grateful to get Christmas presents for their children,” said Singh. “The generosity of Kelowna residents was overwhelming. It just fills my heart with joy to see the joy on the parents’ faces.”