Calgary couple starts charity that has helped 150 Ukrainian refugees

Sep 29 2022, 9:38 pm

A charity started by a Calgary couple has been helping get Ukrainian refugees away from the war to start new lives elsewhere.

Former Professional Hockey Player Michael Garnett and Rebecca Rider, who is a pilot, started to help get people out of war-torn Ukraine.

Garnett is of Ukrainian descent and spent 10 years playing professional hockey in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. He said when he saw the place he once called home invade Ukraine, it tore him up.

“When Russia attacked Ukraine, it just threw my whole world upside down, and I had all kinds of pain in my stomach and, you know, conscience and everything,” he explained. “And it just felt so bad that this country that was such a part of my career and my history had attacked my ancestral homeland, so I had to do something.”

He said they went to the Polish Ukrainian border with a van and started shuttling refugees to humanitarian aid centres and places they could get more help.

After that, they started a GoFundMe, which raised $12,000. They went back to Ukraine and helped with purchases and orphanages. That trip and money lasted a week.

That was when they started the charity so they could continue helping. Garnett estimates the Calgary-born charity has helped close to 150 Ukrainian refugees since it started.

In terms of how they get in contact with the people in need, he says the demand is still very high.

“We have a website and we have social media, and there’s no shortage of requests. People are desperate, and they’re putting out requests in every direction they can find. So that hasn’t been a problem at all. It’s just from that point on.”

Garnett has a message for anyone who has donated or helped in any way so far: “Thank you to the people that have helped the people of Ukraine. They’re desperate, and through no wrongdoing of their own, they’ve lost pretty much everything.”

Peter KleinPeter Klein

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