One year ago, Nadiia Bulych-Samotiy saw a post on Facebook and took action.
It was a photo of a little baby girl who was sick and in need of surgery posted by the head of a Ukrainian charity called "The Future of Ukraine," which helps orphaned and disadvantaged children.
She knew she had to help.
"I told my husband we should help that little girl," Bulych-Samotiy said. "She was in my mind all of the time."
Bulych-Samotiy and her husband moved to Canada from Ukraine eight years ago and have called Brandon, Man. home since 2011. They now have two young sons.
She initially sent the charity some money but her need to help only grew. So along with a friend, she started collecting donations of toys and other items to send to Ukraine.
Their first package of donations for the charity was sent in July 2015, it was 60 kilograms of items such as baby formula, diapers, medicines, toys and other goods. The pair has been working with a shipping company based in Toronto to ensure that everything collected is permitted to enter Ukraine.
"She knows who needs help," Bulych-Samotiy said of the charity's head Marta Levchenko, who receives the donations in Ukraine. "She's taking our packages and knows that this baby needs formula and this one need diapers [and so on]. It doesn't all go to one child."
25 families join effort
She said 25 Brandon families, from inside and outside the Ukrainian community, are now helping with the effort, sending packages to Ukraine regularly and sharing information on a Facebook page.
Bulych-Samotiy said she now wishes she would have visited an orphanage or children's hospital before she left the Ukraine.
"All of our friends, Ukrainian and Canadian, are helping us," she said. "We are happy to make the kids happy."
"Some kids have never had a doll or a little toy like a car," she said. "We are planning to get some presents for these kids."
She said a family vacation to Ukraine is scheduled for this June and as much as she wants to visit family and friends, she hopes she can also deliver toys and other donations from Canada in person.
"I just want to see them [the kids]," Bulych-Samotiy said. "I just want hug them."
She said she is very thankful for the donations so far and hopes more people are able to help out. Bulych-Samotiy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.