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Ukrainian newcomers in Saskatoon receive free housewares from local depot

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With the Russian invasion of Ukraine nearing the one-year mark late this month, Saskatoon volunteers continue their work to help those fleeing the war.

One group started a big undertaking in August, collecting, sorting, and distributing furniture to newcomers hoping to eliminate some of the uncertainty as they set up their new lives here in Saskatoon.

The kitchen table Denys Voronov is loading onto a donated deliver truck represents more than just a piece of furniture for him and his wife Tetiana.

“It’s nice for newcomers, it’s a very good place, for me, for my wife, for my family,” Voronov told CTV News.

The items he loads, which include a dresser and child’s bike, represent a new start for them. They left their home in Zaporizhzhia just over a week ago fearing for the safety of their small one-year-old son.

Voronov described the scene in the city they left behind — sirens blaring constantly; heat and electricity being cut off.

He wants his son Danylo to grow up “not being scared,” he said.

Their home city is just 200 kilometres from the city of Mariupol, a city that was taken by Russian forces in December 2022.

With so much loss, leaving behind his parents and siblings, Voronov was pleasantly surprised to hear about a free furniture depot organized by The Saskatoon Ukrainian-Canadian Congress (UCC). It’s one less thing on their mind as they try to start over in Saskatoon.

“I see, oh my God. So much all. So much furniture, so much glasses all that you need in your new home. For quickly adaptation. If you need, this place help you,” he says.

They’re living in a hotel for now but will be moving to an apartment soon. That’s where volunteers from Saskatoon’s Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) come in.

“We’re helping people that are coming here and they’re starting out. In a lot of cases, they’re not getting the best stuff, but in a lot of cases they’re just happy to get stuff and they have a way to get going,” Pat Tymchatyn, Saskatoon UCC president told CTV News.

About 100 volunteers have pitched in since August to make this depot a reality. It requires a lot of manpower, vehicles, and gas to get the furniture where it needs to go. All the time and money is donated, as the organization is solely run as a non-profit by volunteers.

“My ancestors, when they came to Canada, they got ten dollars and had to work for everything that they got,” Tymchatyn said.

This makes her more determined to give up countless volunteer hours for the project.

The City of Saskatoon donated the building, which was formerly the bus barns on Avenue D North.

Tymchatyn hopes more donations roll in this month to help with necessities needed as stock depletes.

“Those are the hardest things to come by because every family needs a bed to sleep in and a table to eat at,” she says.

Smaller beds are preferred for space limitations in small apartments.

Voronov is grateful for the generosity of volunteers, helping with one of the first steps for his family in their new home.

“Now here it’s all good, but a little bit difficult because it’s a new country, new people, new place,” he said.

There are about 3,200 newcomer Ukrainians in Saskatchewan with another charter plane expected in March.

Anyone with donations can get in touch with the Saskatoon UCC.

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