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Members of UHelpUkraine, are seen holding flags signed by battalions of Ukrainian troops fighting in Ukraine. UHelpUkraine is trying to raise $7-million to fund various programs in Ukraine.Handout

The organizers: Andriy Tkach, Andriy Chepil, Roman Linard and Ivan Kotseruba

The pitch: Raising $7-million

The cause: To help the Ukrainian military buy a drone

Like a lot of Ukrainian Canadians, Andriy Tkach wanted to do something to help when Russian bombs started falling on Ukraine last February.

“People just didn’t know what to do” recalled Mr. Tkach who came to Canada from Ukraine more than 10 years ago with his family. “You were just preoccupied by this.”

At first he headed to his church in Toronto and joined others in gathering and packing donated goods to send to Ukraine. But then he and a small group – Andriy Chepil, Roman Linard and Ivan Kotseruba – decided to try to do something on a larger scale. “We felt that if we wanted to achieve bigger things, we needed to form a non-profit organization,” he said.

That led to the creation of UHelpUkraine which has shipped more than 20,000 kilograms of humanitarian aid to Ukraine so far. That included medicine, clothing and sleeping bags. The group also began working with several organizations in Ukraine to ensure that the donated supplies got to where they were most needed.

In recent weeks, Mr. Tkach and the others have noticed a slowdown in donations and a reduction in media coverage of the war in Ukraine. To help draw attention back to the crisis, UHelpUkraine has launched an ambitious fundraising drive.

The organization is trying to raise $7-million for the Ukrainian military to buy a Turkish Bayraktar drone. They hope to have the money in place by Aug. 24, which is Ukraine’s Independence Day.

“We want to raise awareness of the war,” Mr. Tkach said. “And bring it back to the forefront so people don’t forget.”

They’ve raised around $85,000 so far and Mr. Tkach acknowledged that reaching the goal will be a challenge. But he has been overwhelmed at how the Ukrainian community in Canada has pulled together. “It’s inspiring,” he said.