It’s not enough – but it’s what he can do.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Burke Mountain resident Artem Gradushy watched the news and thought about his family. He talked to friends he hadn’t spoken to in years. And he thought about where he used to live.
“I was angry and upset and frustrated and I was just sitting here,” he says.
He thought about how good his life was in Coquitlam. And he had a question he needed to answer: “What can I do?”
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He found an answer.
On Monday evening Gradushy was manoeuvring through the aisles at Costco and Carter’s and dropping in on generous neighbours to pick up diapers, baby clothes and hygiene products to be sent to people in Ukraine. By late evening he’d raised $655 and filled his car with blankets, warm clothes, non-perishable food items, diapers and even plush toys.
“I’ve also rallied the Burke Mountain community and I have a lot of donations coming in, and that’s all in the last four or three hours,” he says.
Gradushy had read a news story about the basement of a children’s hospital in Ukraine being converted into a makeshift bomb shelter. As the father of a premature baby, the story resonated with him.
“I just wanted to help babies to be honest,” he says.
Originally from Donetsk, Gradushy came to Canada in 2014.
“When the first Russian invasion started I was thinking, ‘This is probably my last chance to move to Canada,’” he says. “It’s where I always wanted to move to. . . . I love Canada.”
Some of his friends have moved to the western reaches of Ukraine, he notes. However, his mother moved from Donetsk to the nation’s capital in 2014.
“My mom is actually stuck in Kyiv,” he says. “She’s in a place where she’s safe right now.”
Gradushy says he’s planning to send the donations via Meest Canada. The corporation is currently offering free shipping on humanitarian aid packages from Toronto to Ukraine, with a promise to deliver packages into Lviv, at which time they’ll be dispersed through Ukranian relief organizations.
Anyone looking to donate can email Gradushy at [email protected] to arrange for pick-up.
“No donation is too small!” he adds.