'Angels of P.E.I.' charity formed to manage outpouring of donations to Ukraine

·3 min read
Christine Zareck, right, and Anna Cherepanova pose with a print of a painting Zareck is selling to raise money for Ukraine. They are two founders of a new charity for helping Ukraine, Angels of P.E.I. (Submitted by Christine Zareck - image credit)
Christine Zareck, right, and Anna Cherepanova pose with a print of a painting Zareck is selling to raise money for Ukraine. They are two founders of a new charity for helping Ukraine, Angels of P.E.I. (Submitted by Christine Zareck - image credit)

Whether it's paying $150 for $5 jars of homemade pickles, selling blue and yellow bandanas for dogs or simply dropping off envelopes of cash, the generosity of Islanders stepping up to help Ukraine has been so overwhelming that a local charity has been set up to manage the donations.

"It's amazing. People are really generous," said Anna Cherepanova, a Ukrainian who lives on P.E.I.

"It's not about, 'We want to build something or promote something.' It's about what people have in their heart to share what they have."

Cherepanova started the charity, Angels of P.E.I., with her friends Christine Zareck and Wendy DeBoer. Zareck's store, Material Girl Fabrics in Charlottetown, was the drop-off location for many donations.

"All day long we were getting people walking into the shop donating money," Zareck said. "We soon realized it was more than we could handle ourselves."

The law firm Cox and Palmer and accounting firm Fitzpatrick & Co. volunteered to help set up the charity. The process is not yet complete, but when Angels of P.E.I. is registered, it will make donating easier and more streamlined for other Island groups such as Stand with Ukraine, Zareck said.

Raised about $70K

So far they have raised about $70,000, and Zareck said it's important to keep the momentum going.

"It is a continuing thing that we have to try to get money, because this is not going to end any time soon. And even if it ended today, there's going to be so many people that are going to need help to rebuild what they have."

It is a continuing thing that we have to try to get money, because this is not going to end any time soon. And even if it ended today, there's going to be so many people that are going to need help to rebuild what they have. — Christine Zareck

Cherepanova sends about $3,000 a week via e-transfer to two people she knows in Ukraine: a pastor and a manager of an orphanage. They use the money to buy food, medicine and other items to disperse to people in need.

Cherepanova said she is in contact with them every couple days.

"Every time they say 1,000 times, 'Thank you, thank you,' when we speak," she said. "I say, … 'Guys you are heroes' and they say, 'You are our angels.' I started laughing because it's exactly what we want to call our charity, Angels of P.E.I."

Brought to tears

Zareck and Cherepanova were brought to tears when speaking about the stories of Islanders' generosity.

Business owners Michael and Chastity Smith auctioned a room at the Inn at Bay Fortune and matched a large donation from Axel Leonhard of Leonhard's Cafe. Artist John MacCallum has donated proceeds from paintings. Organizations such as Lions Clubs and the Stanley Bridge Women's Institute offered support.

But many other smaller donations have added up as well. Mariana Petrovicova made pickles, jams and other preserves to sell at work and some co-workers paid as much as $150 a jar. She ended up raising $1,500 and Cox & Palmer matched the donation.

Sunnybrook Farms Pet Supply made dog bandanas in the colours of the Ukrainian flag and donated the proceeds.

And children in a Grade 3 class at West Kent Elementary School in Charlottetown donated $350 from a school project.

Cherepanova said the outpouring of support has been like a miracle.

"We are so happy, we have peace here, yes. We really live in a safe country, but it's amazing how people can feel open to the needs of different people," she said.

"I'm pretty sure they will forever remember this kindness of Islanders."

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