A Collingwood man continues to do what he can to support those affected by Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Andy Tereshyn first started collecting medical supplies and donations when Russia attacked Ukraine in February 2022. Tereshyn and his wife, Aleksandra Chafranska, moved to Collingwood almost two years ago and both have family in Ukraine. At that time, the local couple was "shaken" by the suffering of Ukrainians and wanted to do something to help.
After enlisting the help of others in the community, the original group effort concentrated on two aspects of assistance: monetary donation and the collection and distribution of medical supplies and medicines for Ukraine.
A collection box was set up at the Collingwood Fire Department last March, and fundraisers were held in Creemore, at Cranberry Golf Course and at the Collingwood Farmers’ Market throughout the fall.
Working with the Canada-Ukraine Foundation (CUF), Tereshyn funnelled the supplies donated in Collingwood to the humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine. To date, Tereshyn estimates the total amount donated to be well over $20,000.
Through contacts in Ukraine, Tereshyn and Chafranska were also able to send certain supplies directly to the Military Hospital in Lviv, where Chafranska is from, and to Tereshyn’s cousin’s brigade in the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF).
“With regards to medical supplies and medicines, we were overwhelmed with donations of these goods,” said Tereshyn.
He sent the most recent parcel a few weeks ago and was informed that medical supplies and medicines are no longer needed as Europe is helping in that area. Tereshyn’s cousin has now asked him, if possible, to obtain and send specific items needed for their fight on the front lines, such as specialized winter gloves, tourniquets, Israeli bandages, medical packs, and solar battery packs, among others.
Through the generosity of friends and family, Tereshyn has started obtaining a limited number of these items so far. In the meantime, he has also shifted his efforts locally.
Since Russia’s first attack on Ukraine last winter, a number of Ukrainian refugees have made their temporary homes in Collingwood and the surrounding area. According to Tereshyn, one family welcomed a new baby girl, and members of the community stepped up to help with all of the baby’s needs.
Four other refugees who moved to Collingwood in May have been hired by a Collingwood-based property management company and plan to use the money they make to help restore post-war Ukraine.
More and more Ukrainians continue to arrive in the area, and Tereshyn said assistance in the way of sponsors, jobs, and accommodations are gravely needed. He also said they are going to need advice and support from the community they now call home.
Tereshyn recently created a Facebook group to further connect Ukranians in Collingwood, with the purpose of helping newcomers engage with the local community and support one another through their difficulties with language, jobs, accommodations, social activities, and any other issue they may face in Canada.
“The idea is to help those who are here or want to come here,” he said. “To give them advice but also just post some social events that may be happening in the area to get the group together.”
Tereshyn is a member of the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Toronto, and said his bishop is interested in setting up a church service in Collingwood if and when they are able to gather enough people.
Tereshyn's focus now is on growing the Facebook group and the level of support within the local community.
He said living in a small town outside of the GTA, the crisis people are facing in Ukraine isn’t in the news nearly as much as it used to be. With over a year now passed since Russia’s first attack, Tereshyn said there is now a bit of apathy.
“It’s a different world here, we don’t share the same fear,” he said. “So the more stories that people can share, the more people know these things are still going on and it’s terrible.”
Tereshy said “there is still a lot more we can do.”