With thousands of Ukrainians fleeing war from the Russian invasion of their homeland, members of the Rotary Club of Sylvan Lake fundraised at Canadian Tire March 12 as part of an ongoing initiative to offer relief support for refugees in Poland.
“There seems to be huge interest and we see the need every day on the news and it’s growing, the refugee crisis is growing exponentially. So, this is not a quick flash in the pan project. We will be looking at carrying this forward for as long as the need is there,” said Rotary member Patrick O’Brien. “We are looking to have some of our members perhaps, with businesses in town, feature and collect donations and do some more of these public opportunities,” he added.
The club initiated the fundraiser March 9, raising about $300 at Canadian Tire and a total of over $4,000 as of March 14, all of which is directed to the Rotary Clubs of Warsaw and Zamosc.
“More than anything, we have to look at the humanitarian aspect of this and simply just help people with a terrible situation,” said O’Brien.
People can support the initiative by sending an e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org, or dropping off cash at The Paint Stop, the business of Lions Club president Matt Toonders.
“We’d encourage people to spread the word through Facebook and their online platforms, create the awareness that there are all kinds of ways to donate to this cause. We feel we’ve got a pretty unique and secure way to get funds to work quickly.”
The Rotary Clubs of Zamosc is on the front lines of serving Ukrainian refugees fleeing to Poland, focusing on “getting people through the border and situated with food and a chance to just catch their breath.” The club in Zamosc, similar to the branch in Warsaw is ensuring medical aid is made available while also assisting other organizations to move refugees further into Poland and to other countries.
O’Brien is en route to meet his family in Poland, where he also plans to visit the Rotary Club of Warsaw.
“I would like to get to the Warsaw Rotary Club and get a first-hand discussion going with them and I also want to look at what Rotary might be able to do to help with refugees coming to Canada. We have people in our district that are already starting to put together an effort to bring refugees to Alberta.”
For information regarding upcoming in-person fundraising events and other updates visit the Rotary Club of Sylvan Lake Facebook page.