Kelowna residents have stepped up to help make some of our newcomers feel more welcomed in the community.
Hearts & Hands 4 Kids hosted a Holiday Toy Drive for Ukrainian children and youth.
Kelowna councillor Mohini Singh was one of the driving forces behind the toy drive. She said there were over 50 people in attendance the evening of Nov. 26 to donate toys and gift cards.
The following day, Ukrainian parents were invited to pick out presents for their kids at no cost, so no child has to miss out on Christmas.
“We wanted them to feel like they’re part of the community and not like it was a charitable event,” Singh said. “It was a community sharing event.” Parents could even wrap the gifts before heading home as to not ruin the surprise for Christmas morning.
Ukrainian families have been finding a new home in Kelowna ever since Russia declared war on the country. Singh said some families are finding their footing in the community while others are still just arriving.
Yuliia Al-Chaiakh came to Kelowna five months ago from Kiev. She was able to pick out a toy for her child to open on Christmas morning. “I’m so thankful and I appreciate it. Thank you for the amazing party and thank you for making our children happier.”
Singh estimates over $22,000 worth of toys and gift cards were donated from the community. “I was absolutely in tears.”