A Ukrainian boy in Sooke is learning how to play hockey after the community came together to gift him the equipment.
Roman Slobodeniuk and his family moved to the Island municipality after fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Sofia Slobodeniuk, Roman’s mother, says her son was very active in Ukraine and wanted to get him involved in a local sport, adding together they chose hockey. However, they didn’t know where to get the equipment or find information on local teams or lessons.
“I made a post on the Ukrainians in Victoria B.C. Facebook page on Sunday asking for help,” Sofia told CHEK News. “I attached a photo with a list of what was needed.”
Sarah Stolz, with Help Ukraine Vancouver Island (HUVI), saw the post and got the organization to help.
“I reached out to Sooke Mom’s [on Facebook] and the Westshore Hockey League,” Stolz said. “We were able to come together as a group to provide her son the hockey gear.”
She says one mom in the Facebook group is involved in the hockey league and donated all the gear to HUVI. Two days later, the equipment was in the Slobodeniuk house and Roman was signed up for lessons.
“It’s hard to describe the feeling when a dream comes true,” Sofia said. “You just have to look at the photo and see his eyes. Happy eyes, confidence, and the desire to train. Believe in miracles. We are lucky.”
The mom says she is very grateful to everyone who made this happen, adding that this is her chance to “see a champion in a few years.”
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Ukrainians looking for holiday magic
More than 700 Ukrainian newcomers on Vancouver Island will need some help this holiday season, according to the Victoria Ukrainian Cultural Centre.
Janna Fabrikova with the centre says many of them are also spending their first holiday season away from their home country.
“It wasn’t their choice not to be there this year, so it’s especially hard on them,” Fabrikova said.
The centre plans to host a Christmas dinner with Ukrainian families on Boxing Day, when each family will receive a present.
“Mostly, these are gift cards to buy some groceries or buy some food,” Fabrikova explained.
She says the centre is also working with several organizations, including the Salvation Army and Help Ukraine VI, to ensure each family and child can enjoy the holidays.
Help Ukraine VI is looking for monetary donations that can be added to its emergency housing fund, put on food cards or used to buy winter clothing. Information on how to donate can be found on its website.
The Salvation Army will also provide Christmas baskets to the families, with toy donations accepted via the organization or by contacting the Ukrainian Cultural Centre.
CHEK News will be hosting a Christmas Drive Thru on Dec. 2, collecting new unwrapped toys, non-perishable food and cash donations for the Salvation Army.