ESTEVAN - Estevan area residents have been showing their support for the people of Ukraine in the past few weeks, and they showed it once again on Sunday night.
Members of the Estevan Ukrainian community hosted a fundraising supper at the Estevan branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. Hundreds of people turned out to enjoy a Ukrainian meal that included sausage, cabbage roll, perogies, borscht and a bun. They raised $21,319.10, which will go to help people back in Ukraine.
Khrystyna Vasylkiv said they were ‘overwhelmed’ with the turnout.
“We couldn’t be any happier, and it was a big, big success for us,” Vasylkiv said.
The event was slated to begin at 4 p.m., but so many people showed up in advance that they had to open the doors at 3:45 p.m. She hopes that it wasn’t a problem for people to wait outdoors.
“I’ve seen lots of familiar faces, and it’s just great to see all of those people,” said Vasylkiv. “Overall, it’s just been fantastic and it’s been fabulous.”
Vasylkiv believes they were busiest just before 4 p.m. But there were still people coming until 7 p.m., which was the billed closing time.
Many of the supporters chose to have their meal to go, as pickup was an option.
The turnout was so strong that they ran out of borscht at about 5:30 p.m. and sausages closer to 6 p.m. Vasylkiv apologized to those who came after they ran out of those foods, and she thanked everyone for their understanding.
They had lots of perogies, cabbage rolls and buns. They substituted the borscht with a free dessert and they added extra perogies and cabbage rolls to the meals.
“We tried to tell people at the door that we ran out, but most of the people would still come in and dine in, which was really, really nice of them,” said Vasylkiv.
None of the organizers expected to have so many people show up. They did not pre-sell tickets, so they didn’t know how many people would show up.
“All of the people were very nice and most of the people did not say they were upset, but I feel bad and I feel guilty as those things were listed on the menu,” said Vasylkiv.
This was the first time they have hosted an event of this scale, and most of them don’t have experience in the restaurant business. Vasylkiv said they will have a better idea of what to do next time.
People could purchase candles and other smaller items that were in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag. The merchandise proved to be popular.
She thanked Clifton’s No Frills and Sobey’s Ready to Serve for supplying the food for the supper, and the Estevan Legion branch for all of their help.
The money will be going to a Ukrainian-based organization that has been accepting donations for people in that country. Vasylkiv said they have been helping people that need the money the most in hotspots in the country since the Russian invasion began in late February.
“You have lots of people that lost their homes and are staying in shelters, and of course everyone needs food and clothes and all the other supplies. They need everything,” she said.
Support can extend beyond financial means, she said. Vasylkiv asked for people to keep praying for those in Ukraine as the war with Russia continues.
The local Ukrainian community does not have another event planned at this time. They have discussed a few ideas. They hope to get together again and organize something else, but first they need a break after an event that came together relatively quickly.