Raising funds for airfare, housing, food, essentials, bus passes and similar supports
My name is David Benjestorf, a long time Edmontonian and community advocate, with a passion for helping those in need. A great many years ago I attended a study abroad program in Eastern Europe and saw first hand some of the horrors of war in the Chechnya conflict. While I was scared, a number of families supported me safe and kept me safe. Years later I travelled to Poland and saw the horrors that one group of people could do to another at the Krakow and Birkenau concentration camps. Both of these events forever impacted me.
Fast forward to 2022, I was horrified to see the first Russian tank roll across the Ukrainian border and I watched with despair as Ukrainians suffered. Many of us watch helplessly as so many people's lives were upended. Unable to take the anxiety of the atrocities, I decided to focus my energy on helping those in need. Together with a few family and friends, we decided to sponsor or support 10 families in need. Our commitment to them:
- pick them up at the airport;
- find them furnished accommodation in someone's home or rent them a furnished apartment (typically for larger families or unique needs) for the first 2-3 months;
- get the kids settled in school;
- help with resumes;
- help with groceries and other essentials;
- help with toys and clothes;
- help with driving, paperwork and appointments;
- help co-ordinating translators or English classes if needed;
- with jobs in hand, help them transition into more cost effective housing and co-ordinate household donations;
- Note: the amount of support is based on need. Some people have resources and need more advice, friendship and local support, while others had their houses bombed and lost everything they own, escaping with the clothes on their back.
The need however goes much beyond these 10 families and we would like to do whatever we can to help whoever we can. So many of you have reached out with generous donations of gift cards, clothes, toys, car seats, furniture and so much more, while others have asked how they can help. I thought a Go Fund Me page might be a great way to simplify the process and get funds tailored to helping each family individually.
Thank you again to everyone that has helped our group and all the other groups that are doing so much to help Ukrainians in need!