By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on December 19, 2023.
The Downtown Rotary Club on Sunday gave Ukrainian families a taste of a Canadian Christmas.
The club hosted more than 70 adults and 107 children at a city restaurant for a special celebration.
The first group of Ukrainians fleeing the war in their homeland began arriving in Lethbridge in March of 2022 and many, said Rotarian Dennis Chinner on Monday, want to set up new roots in Canada so their children can live in peace.
The parents and children all received a gift card from the Rotary club, this being the second Christmas away from home for some of the families.
“They’re doing great,” said Chinner of the evacuees, with the bulk of them having employment here.
The Rotarians have gotten strong community support for their work with the evacuees, said Chinner.
“Rotary couldn’t do these projects without the amazing support from the community, be it attending and sponsoring our fundraising events, donations of furniture, bedding and household items and donations to our partner organizations at MCC Charities and Mission Thrift (they give us gift cards for the families) and Lethbridge Family Services.
“What has been amazing is so many people in the community have wanted to help and this has provided our Rotary Club with the opportunity to be the conduit to provide an opportunity for the community to help the Ukrainian people while providing the people with an opportunity to source the items they require.”
Anyone with used furniture, beds, bedding or household items they would like to donate can contact Chinner at 403-360-0156 to arrange pickup.
The club is also helping the Ukrainians in a different way by forming a committee to establish a branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in Lethbridge. The branch, which will have an all-Ukrainian board, executive and committee members will help the new Lethbridge residents build their community and support each other.
Many Ukrainians have expressed, said Chinner, that they don’t want their children to lose their native language or culture.
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