Members of the Canada-Ukraine Canada World Youth Exchange do some dancing for students at Haahuupayak School upon their arrival in the Alberni Valley in November 2008. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Members of the Canada-Ukraine Canada World Youth Exchange do some dancing for students at Haahuupayak School upon their arrival in the Alberni Valley in November 2008. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Organizers of Port Alberni’s Ukrainian Solidarity Night appeal for volunteers

Fewer than a dozen are needed to help with different tasks at March 19 fundraiser

Organizers of a Ukraine Solidarity Night fundraiser in Port Alberni are appealing for help.

The night is being planned by a small group of Canadians who participated in a Canada-Ukraine youth exchange in 2008-09 with Canada World Youth. Eight Ukrainian and eight Canadian youth spent three months each in Ostroh, Ukraine and Port Alberni volunteering in each community.

Four Canada World Youth volunteers coming to Port Alberni are asking for six or seven volunteers to help them cook and serve Ukrainian food for 100-150 people. They need other volunteers who can help scan vaccination passports, and someone with IT or audio-visual expertise who can help them set up equipment for a presentation (equipment will be provided).

READ: Canada-Ukraine exchange students return to Port Alberni for fundraising cultural night

READ: Port Alberni businesses show support for Ukraine

Russell Mackenzie is one of the Canadian organizers of the fundraising event that will take place this Sunday, March 19 from 5:30–8 p.m. at the Kinsmen Community Centre (#30-4090 Hollywood St. at the Alberni District Fall Fairgrounds). Mackenzie was one of the adult supervisors of the exchange.

In a letter addressed to Port Alberni City Council for the March 14 meeting, Mackenzie wrote about the “horrific scenes” taking place in Ukraine right now. He was one of the adults responsible for the CWY exchange students when they visited Ostroh, Ukraine and Port Alberni for three months each in 2008-09.

“Heartbreakingly, many of those same youth volunteers (from the 2008-09 exchange) are now currently refugees in Poland, seeking refuge in small villages in western Ukraine or even joining in as civilian forces protecting their country from the Russian military,” he added. “Needless to say, these are very dark times for the Ukrainian nation.”

City Councillor Ron Paulson and his wife Beth have already agreed to help at the fundraiser. Paulson was part of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge hosted in Port Alberni December 2008 and January 2009, and said many of the CWY youth helped out at the event. One of the Ukrainian volunteers even acted as translator for the Russian hockey team. Other members helped set up Winter Wonderland at the AV Multiplex and worked in the skate shop.

“I had a really neat connection with those kids when they were here,” Paulson said. “That group touched a lot of people in our community. It was an extremely positive experience in the community.”

Anyone willing to help during the dinner can contact Samantha Thomas by phone at 250-735-0415 or email ukr.portalberni@gmail.com.

Alberni ValleyCharity and DonationsUkraine