A temporary distribution centre is working to get clothing, hygiene products and other supplies to Ukrainian refugees arriving in Ottawa after fleeing their homes amid the war with Russia.
The centre, on Greenbank Road in the southwest end of the city, was opened because of the overflow of donations that had been coming in.
Sofiya Kominko and other volunteers set it up to distribute donations for Ukrainian families and hosts, and said the support from the Ottawa community has been overwhelming.
"There's a big sense of pride of being in Ottawa right now and just having all the support come in," she said.
Families reuniting, breaking apart
For volunteer Nataliia Stepaniuk, the work they're doing hits close to home.
Her sister, Olha Rudenko, and her two sons left Ukraine for Ottawa a few weeks ago. Rudenko said it's been an emotional journey for the entire family.
"My parents and my husband are in Ukraine, and it's difficult for us," she said. "But my children are safe so this is the most important thing now."
The assistance she's received from Ottawans is making the transition a little easier, said Rudenko, who's staying with a host until they can find a more permanent living space.
"[I] just appreciate very much the support of these people that are around," she said.
'I wanted to do something'
Through the Ukrainian Settlement Helpers Ottawa Facebook page, people are able to connect with Ukrainians relocating to the city.
Brad Flemming and Vicki Tait are welcoming a family next week.
"I wanted to do something specifically, and they wouldn't take an old fat guy over there fighting who never fought before," Flemming said. "So I thought, this is what we can do."
The couple will be hosting a 23-year-old mother who's expecting a baby soon, and that made Tait think of her own daughter and grandson.
"We're we're pretty excited about it. A little nervous, but I'm sure they're more nervous than we are," Tait said. "[We're] really looking forward to being able to provide them a safe place that they can, you know, hopefully just wait it out."
A future gathering place
Organizers are encouraging Ukrainian families and hosts to get what they need while they're open.
Stepaniuk said she's hoping that the temporary shop can serve as much more than just a distribution hub.
"It's really a place you could come, see the kind of donations that we've got, meet new people, and also if you need something you can leave that information with us," she said.
Stepaniuk said the community feel to the centre won't be lost when a more permanent location is set up.
"It's going to be set up as a free store-slash-socializing place for newcomer Ukrainians," she said.
Multiple volunteers cautioned the distribution centre isn't equipped to receive donations right now, but people can reach out on Facebook to find out where things can be dropped off.