October 22, 2023


Originally, the shipment was supposed to come on Saturday morning, but things changed, as they do, and the truck could come to be unloaded only on Sunday afternoon. Well, it was quite the operation. Agricultural producers (apparently, Mennonite farmers in the Hadashville area) were going to have a bit of a bumper crop this year. They wanted to do something charitable to help those in need. The Manitoba Provincial Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) was contacted by Dave Turchyn who works with the farmers. As ever, UCC President Joanne Lewandosky came up with the perfect plan. She contacted Father Ihor Shved, the Rector of Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral and the Cathedral grounds were established as the distribution point in Winnipeg. The Ukrainian parishes around Manitoba that have contact with many of the newcomers from Ukraine who made their way to this province to escape the brutal Russian invasion that is being waged to this very day - were informed of the offer.

The Newcomer families could come and have as many potatoes as they needed and those parishes and groups that do "perogy-making" or other fundraisers or that otherwise provide aid and support to newcomers, could likewise put in their orders and pick up their potatoes directly from the Cathedral grounds just within the boundaries of Winnipeg's 'North End'. Well, that was the easy part. The challenging (and fun) part was the unloading of 20 tons of potatoes from a massive truck into bags for easier pick-up and local transportation. It was a heartwarming sight to behold....

A good deal of men had volunteered to come out and help, but there were families as well, even some teenage girls assumed the task of gathering the potatoes that didn't make it into the bags. A conveyer belt moved the potatoes out via a chute as men caught them in bags and pails. They were all tied into special carry-able nylon bags and taken away immediately by families or on to a short-term storage site for pick-up later in the day.

A bystander might be convinced that the people gathered there had years of experience as it all went like clockwork. And, above all, even though it became tiresome - especially for those that had been there since the beginning - there was an overwhelming spirit of comradery and good will! Everyone got involved. Father Ihor Shved rolled his sleeves up and was joined by Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski to help out (the latter actually just brough a newcomer that visited his parish that morning so that he could take some potatoes home, and the need for help was obvious, so... they both got involved). The UCC President J. Lewandosky was on site as well, with other UCC volunteers that helped in various ways.

The whole operation was done by 3:00 PM as planned! All those who came out went home with potatoes and, especially, the satisfaction of having been involved with a truly generous effort and something that will concretely help those who came to our city seeking safety and a home at a time when their homes have been destroyed.

God bless the Mennonite farmers! God bless the Manitoba UCC. God bless the Sts. V&O Cathedral parish and all who volunteered. God bless our Newcomer families and their families back home.



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