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‘It’s absolutely incredible’: King residents step up to help Ukrainian family who fled war

Township collected donations for Ukrainian sisters, two children staying in King
May 2, 2022
Laura Broadley

The residents of King township are doing their part to help people who have fled the war in Ukraine.

When the township asked for donations for a family from Ukraine that had come to King recently, the people in the community stepped up in a big way.

When Mayor Steve Pellegrini saw Karina Bulate asking for donations on Facebook, he knew he could help.

Bulate is hosting four people from Ukraine who have fled to Canada during the unrest in their home country, two sisters and their two children.

“On Facebook, I had noted Karina was looking for help so I reached out and said, ‘How can I help?’” Pellegrini said.

Pellegrini and Bulate talked about how the mayor and the township could work together to get the family what it needed.

“We decided to put something together to assist,” Pellegrini said. “They’re coming with nothing.”

The township reached out to the community and asked for donations to be dropped off at the fire station -- items such as winter jackets, hats, gloves and school supplies. The community donated those items in addition to gift cards and money for the family.

“I’m very proud of the people in this municipality and their giving spirit,” Pellegrini said.

Pellegrini knows there will be more people fleeing Ukraine who come to live in King.

“This is just the start. There are many other families that will be coming, and we’re just here to assist,” he said.

Local social services in York Region will put together programs and services to support people who come to the region from Ukraine, Pellegrini said.

“People just want to help. How can we help? It just warms your heart to see how everybody pitches in,” Pellegrini said.

Bulate knew one of the women from before the war who had come to Canada to help when Bulate’s brother was born. Bulate said she had always had a dream of living in Canada.

“When everything broke out we stayed in contact. We started discussing how everything was going and how we could help in any way,” Bulate said.

“This is kind of an odd opportunity, so she decided to take it with the kids and her sister. We’re helping facilitate as much as we possibly can.”

When Bulate reached out to a mom’s group on Facebook for help, she didn’t expect the community to respond in such a big way.

“It’s absolutely incredible. People talk about the small town spirit and helping. You don’t really notice it until you need it,” Bulate said. “The amount of support and help we received, it blew up overnight almost. I’m so thankful and the family is very thankful as well.”

The family is living in Bulate’s family’s basement.

“Ideally, they’d like to create a foundation here for a future for their kids and eventually get their husbands over and immigrate to Canada and become Canadians. That is their dream,” she said.