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Colwood students raise a sweet $4,400 for Ukraine in four days

Campaign has special meaning for those with family still in the embattled country
Students in Samantha Ogrodnik and Joanne Abbis’s Grade 7 classes at Ecole John Stubbs Memorial School hold posters and flowers made for a fundraiser for Ukrainian relief efforts. (Courtesy of John Stubbs Memorial School)

Ecole John Stubbs Memorial School students raised over $4,400 to be matched for the Canadian Red Cross in Ukraine, in a gesture of particular importance for students with family in the war-torn country.

The students of Samantha Ogrodnik and Joanne Abbis’s Grade 7 classes created little yellow and blue flowers surrounding Chupa Chups lollipops, and posters to promote their sale for $2 in the Colwood school’s foyer.

Between March 14 and 17, they collected about $4,415.90 with one student even donating $100 of their own savings.

“The money started pouring in every day. We thought ‘Wow, this really does have an impact,’” vice-principal Jennifer Gibson said. The funds will be doubled to $8,831.80 thanks to the Canadian government’s matching funding for the Canadian Red Cross’s humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

“We do hard things to help others,” said Gibson. “We thought $1,500 might be a great fundraiser, then we raised $1,500 in one day. People jumped right in over those four days.”

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The gesture is especially close to home for Ogrodnik and student Larsen Naydek, both of whom have family living in Ukraine. Naydek and his parents, Mac and Jodie, moved to Canada three years ago from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, where his grandparents still reside.

“I’m very sad that people have to go through this right now. My grandparents are living through that, and I just feel super bad for them. I can’t feel any worse for them,” said the 12-year-old student, who had made posters featuring the Ukrainian flag.

Naydek was nonetheless proud of his peers and happy for the funds they raised. “I hope it goes mainly to the refugees, and I’m happy that the government is doubling it.”

The Canadian Red Cross is providing food, water, clothing and hygiene kits, first aid training, medical supplies, and around-the-clock health care, including psychosocial support, at border crossings and major cities in Ukraine, according to their donation website.

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, over three million people have fled the country, while an estimated 18 million people inside Ukraine have been impacted.

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