A young volunteer helps sort through donations, dropped off for Ukrainians in Red Deer. (Contributed photo)

A young volunteer helps sort through donations, dropped off for Ukrainians in Red Deer. (Contributed photo)

Sixteen displaced Ukrainian families are being resettled in Red Deer, more expected

They need everything from toiletries to mattresses, says an advocate

So far, 93 Ukrainians fleeing the invasion of their homeland have temporarily re-settled in Red Deer.

A lot more displaced people will be arriving in the city, unless Russia stops its invasion of Ukraine, said Burton Bailey, a member of a local planning committee fundraising buy plane tickets for them.

So far, the group has paid for 99 plane tickets, added Bailey — with six more displaced people expected to arrive in the next day or so.

These recent arrivals make up 15, soon to be 16, families.

Members of the Ukrainian Displaced Persons Planning Committee hear about displaced Ukrainians with relatives living in Red Deer and then fundraise to bring them over.

Bailey wishes Canada’s federal government would, instead, send some planes to pick up refugee camps in neighbouring countries, since most fleeing Ukrainians can’t afford to fly to Canada.

“The first batch (of resettled Ukrainians) we brought over had friends or family who could help look after them and take them in. The next batch we will have to find homes for,” he said.

The Ukrainian Displaced Persons Planning Committee was established in March to help Ukrainians escape the bombing of their cities and towns. Besides fundraising for plane tickets, the group has been sending humanitarian packages to Ukraine.

The latest high-priority request is for body bags. “We sent 600 to 700 body bags just from Red Deer — and that makes me sick,” said Bailey.

To better help war-torn newcomers to this city, his group is in the process of trying to find a commercial bay where Red Deerians who want to help arriving Ukrainians can drop off furniture, household and kitchen items.

The idea is to create a sort of no-cost thrift store where displaced newcomers can browse and pick out the items they need free of charge, said Bailey.

New toiletries and new underwear for women and children are needed, said Emily Berg, who is leading a donations committee. Gently used furniture, beds and especially mattresses are also required.

Cash donations can be e-transferred to donationsstvladimir@gmail.com. For other kinds of donations, please email Father Jim nakone@hotmail.com

Shannon Yeo, director of immigration and settlement service for Catholic Social Services, the non-profit designated by the federal government to help in-coming Ukrainians, said there’s no centralized admitting system for these displaced persons.

Yeo often hears about Ukrainians who have arrived through word-of-mouth, or from Alberta Health Services since they usually apply for a health care card.

Unlike official refugees, who go through the paperwork to become permanent residents of Canada, Ukrainians are being admitted through an expedited process because of their emergency situation. Yeo said they can apply for three-year work or study permits, but are not considered permanent residents.

The rules are shifting for what resources are available to them, with some federal funding now freed up for settlement. Yeo believes a placement worker and translator will be made available to help connect these people with longer-term housing, work opportunities, school admissions, and even English classes.

“The situation has changed a lot in the last couple of months,” said Yeo, who’s still waiting to hear details about how these additional supports will be implemented.

Since Catholic Social Services isn’t connected to all of the Ukrainians who have arrived, Yeo hopes anyone who knows of an individual or family in need will get in touch so she can pass on details about government supports, once available, to those who are eligible.

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