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Furniture donations needed to support Ukrainian newcomers in Edmonton

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An organization helping Ukrainian newcomers settle into their new lives in Edmonton is hosting a furniture donation blitz to help restock their warehouse.

For nearly 10 months, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress - Alberta Provincial Council has been operating a furniture depot in a northwest warehouse, supplying newcomers with essentials to set up their homes.

While many people enjoyed a break over the holidays, Ukrainian newcomers fleeing the continued Russian invasion continued and the supply of mattresses, couches, and kitchen tables has depleted.

Approximately 35 families utilize the free warehouse weekly, and most need at least three mattresses, explained Orysia Boychuk, UCC-APC president.

"The need continues," she said. "There's a lot of pressure and demands on families arriving."

"This is a little way to help get them started. We feel this is really critical, so they are not sleeping on the floor."

Donations of furniture are desperately needed, Boychuk said, in addition to volunteers to help sort and prepare the gently used household items for their new owners.

The whole operation is housed in the Boilermakers Lodge 146 building near the High Park Industrial area.

That space was donated to the UCC-APC by the local chapter of the international labour union as a way to help Ukrainians affected by the invasion.

"We are very, very glad we could help," said Hugh MacDonald, the lodge's business manager.

UCC-APC volunteers move mattresses in the Boilermakers Lodge 146 building (CTV News Edmonton/Jessica Robb).

MacDonald said that as soon as the invasion began last February, the union membership voted to donate $10,000 to support the UCC-APC. When he went to present the cheque, he saw how small the Ukrainian non-profit cultural association's office space was.

"I thought, my gosh, they need more space," MacDonald added. "And we had more space."

"This space is big enough for us to carry on with our routine training programs and also allow the Ukrainian Canadian Congress to use it as a much-needed furniture depot."

Yulia Borovska arrived in Edmonton last May with her family and relied on the furniture depot.

"We really appreciate all people who donate here to the warehouse because it's very important for newcomers to have the things they need for daily life," she told CTV News Edmonton.

Volunteers move furniture at the UCC-APC furniture depot for Ukrainian newcomers (CTV News Edmonton/Jessica Robb).

She now volunteers at the depot as a way to give back to the community that helped her. On top of helping, it acts as a way to meet fellow newcomers.

"It's difficult to start your life from scratch because you can't fit your previous life in your suitcase," said Zhenia Lubinets, a fellow volunteer and newcomer who arrived in September.

"You need everything," she added. "It's a good thing to know that you are not alone in a foreign country."

To volunteer, donate, or for more information, visit the UCC-APC's website.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jessica Robb

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