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Fundraiser in support of Ukraine draws hundreds in Saint John

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A fundraising fair hosted by the newly formed "Ukrainian Association of Saint John" drew hundreds of people to the Jervis Bay Legion in Saint John, N.B., Saturday afternoon.

“I can’t believe what I see around me,” says Svitlana Goncharova of the group. “Because we were expecting 200 people, and I think we had 400 during the first hour.”

Traditional Ukrainian music, food, crafts, and more were on display, with all donations and proceeds from the event to be used to help the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We’re going to help people who are actually doing things locally,” says Bogdon Gonchorova. “I know my own friends and my own family who are helping local guys build shelters, providing food, providing sleeping bags, all of that kind of stuff.”

Those of all ages came together for the event Saturday to do what they can to help those back home – that includes eight-year-old Dimitri Boinitski, who drew, and sold copies of a comic he made out of concern for his grandparents in Ukraine.

“I made a comic,” he tells CTV News. “And I really don’t want my grandparents to die, so I wanted to sell it.”

It was also stressed that not only is help needed in the form of donations and supplies to send over to Ukraine, but also that there is a need for housing and other supports for those who are going to be coming to Canada.

“For me personally, it’s my way to do something for my country and for my people,” says Svitlana. “Because it’s a very joyful atmosphere here, but what’s going on right now in Ukraine, it’s heartbreaking.”

Bogdon says Russia underestimated Ukraine but also the level of support that they would be receiving from all over the world, including in the Maritimes.

“So, I’m very thankful for everything you do, and everything to help us,” he says.

For more information about the Ukrainian Association of Saint John and how to donate, click here.

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