London

'Working as one unit': Donations pour in at London Ukrainian Centre

Donations to help Ukrainians during the Russian invasion are pouring in to the London Ukrainian Centre, with items donated Tuesday expected to be in the air by Wednesday.

Call for donations went out Tuesday, and items began coming in quickly

Pavlo Byk, 19, came to London from Ukraine to study aviation at Fanshawe College. He's taking time away from his studies to help organize donations to help his home country as the Russian invasion continues. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

When he decided to come to Canada from Ukraine to study aviation, 19-year-old Pavol Byk probably didn't think he'd be organizing donations for a relief flight to his home country. 

But on Tuesday that's where he was working at the London Ukrainian Centre, taking calls and helping organize donations that came in by the carload every few minutes. Volunteers with loads of baby formula, canned soup, diapers and medical supplies showed up, eager to help. 

The call only went out in the morning, but the time CBC arrived in the early afternoon, the tables were starting to fill with donated items.

"Basically everybody," said Byk when asked who is donating. "Big businesses, supermarkets, Canadians, they bring whatever they can. Everybody is working as one unit. They don't want this country to disappear basically. They want to show their support as much as they can." 

Donated medication is stacked up and ready for shipping to Ukraine. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

Items donated Tuesday will be en route by Wednesday aboard a cargo flight headed to Poland from Toronto's Pearson Airport. From there, they'll be trucked over the border and into Ukraine.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is now in its sixth day. It has been pounding civilian targets in Ukraine's second-largest city of Kharkiv, and a convoy of tanks and other vehicles continues to threaten the capital, Kyiv. Throughout the country, many Ukrainian civilians spent another night huddled in shelters, basements or corridors.

Byk's parents and younger brother are in western Ukraine, so far free from the worst of the Russian advance but still in a country where citizens are taking up arms against their invaders. 

Canned food is among the items donated at the London Ukrainian Centre. All items donated Tuesday are set to be flown to Europe by Wednesday. (Andrew Lupton/CBC )

Byk's stresses aren't those of your typical college student. 

"Waking up at night, reading the news, you know I'm afraid," he said. "Whenever my parents don't get back to me right away I'm scared what happened to them. It's quite hard. Being here, helping people, it's a huge help for my mental health." 

Katelyn came to the donation door with bags stuffed with clothing, first-aid supplies and canned food. She was moved to act after watching news of the Russian invasion. 

"If I was in that situation, I would very much appreciate any help that I can get, whether it's a bit of food or a donation to get me through the night." 

The London Ukrainian Centre will continue to accept donations of non-perishable food, clothing medical supplies and other items at its location at 247 Adelaide St. South.

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