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Richmond students help New West church support displaced Ukrainians

Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral gets helping hand from students in its efforts to support Ukrainians arriving in B.C.
Holy Eucharist Cathedral UkrainianDonation
Folks from Boyd Secondary in Richmond recently visited Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in New Westminster to donate the proceeds of their fundraising efforts. From left: teacher Michael Taylor, Grade 11 student Mat Dion Somblingo, Grade 12 student Samantha Stolberg, Father Mykhailo Ozorovych, Grade 11 student Justin Ho, and Grade 11 student Kelvin Nguyen.

A social studies class in Richmond is helping Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral support displaced Ukrainians who are arriving in B.C.

Michael Taylor, a social studies teacher at Boyd Secondary in Richmond, said the 28 students in his Social Justice 12 class recently finished raising $1,250 for Ukrainian refugees through weekly bake sales. He was impressed with their results, noting the school has a student population of 650 and the students raised the money in a tight eight-week timeframe.

“This fundraiser had such a huge impact on our school because it was really a chance to connect with the bigger aspects of life and to recognize how lucky we are to live in Canada,” Grade 12 student Samantha Stolberg said in an email to the Record. “When Mr. Taylor, our social justice teacher, brought forward this campaign idea, I remember our class being really excited about the chance to try and help people who are suffering through something extremely horrible, and I’m so glad that our school felt the same way and were willing to come out and consistently support us as we fundraised through weekly donut or bake sales. And also those who simply donated and didn’t even buy…”

Taylor said the church’s pastor, Father Mykhailo Ozorovych, was generous enough to sit down with two of his students for a podcast interview, where they discussed the war in Ukraine, the plight of refugees, and what the B.C. government and others are doing.

“Donating to the Holy Eucharist Cathedral, and specifically toward their Ukraine medical supplies and Ukrainian refugees fund really provided the chance to see how much of an impact we can have when we come together as a community,” Stolberg said. “Most of those who attend the church or services have family in Ukraine, and I cannot imagine the turmoil they have felt or are feeling not knowing how their brothers and sisters are managing during a heinous time in history. The world needs to do better, we need to do better, and I hope this can be something that can make a difference, however big or small.”

Taylor said students were emotionally impacted by the early events of the invasion and were keen to make some kind of positive meaning out of such a tragic situation. He said the war in Ukraine became a part of the Social Justice 12 lessons, and inspired students Kelvin Nguyen and Justin Ho to reach out to Ozorovych, who was already actively engaged in supporting the Ukrainian community in B.C. and abroad.

“It is rare to see such ongoing student determination to raise funds so quickly, but that is exactly what the class did in order to meet its $1,200 goal,” he said. “I believe they felt a deep connection to the invasion because of the real time news coverage, and emotionally moving images shown in the media. They were motivated in a very heartful way, and this was incredibly rewarding to see.”