‘A complete 180’: Donations surge for Vancouver Island group that feeds Ukrainian refugees after support plummeted

‘A complete 180’: Donations surge for Vancouver Island group that feeds Ukrainian refugees after support plummeted
The group received more than $30,000 in 24 hours.

Local support group Help Ukraine Vancouver Island (HUVI) is expressing its gratitude after it received an outpouring of support to help Ukrainian refugees on the Island.

On Thursday, CHEK News reported that HUVI had seen a dramatic 94 per cent decline in donations since this time last year.

The group said it spends $500 every two weeks to fund a food share program for hundreds of people in need, but that the program was at risk of shutting down due to a lack of support.

After CHEK News aired its story, however, the group raised tens of thousands of dollars in less than 24 hours.

WATCH: Help Ukraine Vancouver Island says donations are down 94% for refugees

“Since the interview aired yesterday afternoon, I feel like we’ve done a complete 180,” said HUVI general manager Karmen McNamara on Friday.

“In the past, I guess 18 hours, we’ve brought in over $30,000, which is enough to keep us going through the end of January,” she said.

She said the donations will allow the Island group to cover staff costs and help provide food to more than 300 Ukrainian families.

“I am just so so grateful to everybody that reached out, that donated, that asked questions,” she said Friday. “Thank you. All I can say to our community is thank you.”

HUVI services

Since December 2022, HUVI has helped 707 refugees settle on Vancouver Island. It runs seven community hubs up and down the Island, including four in the capital region.

“We also provide on the ground support to assist with translation, with helping people with services – such as how to access medical care, how to get a bank account, how to register their kids in school,” said McNamara.

“We offer English classes so that people can improve their English language skills, we offer welcome baskets to help people get into the community,” she added. “We provide support with resumes. And really our goal is to help people to become self-sustaining.”

McNamara says just 225 donors helped raise the roughly $30,000 in 24 hours, averaging about $100 per person.

“There was one donation in there for $5,000, for which, just wow, and thank you to that person, that is incredible,” she said. “But lots of donations for $50, for $75, and we are grateful to every single person who has been able to help us, regardless of how small or large the donation.”

While HUVI says it’s grateful for the groundswell of support, it notes that it will continue fundraising for as long as there is a need.

With files from CHEK’s Oli Herrera

Adam ChanAdam Chan

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