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Kyiv-born Colwood woman makes perogies to help Ukraine

Proceeds from sales of homemade perogies are being used to help people in Ukraine.
Lia Butler and her four-year-old daughter, Raia Butler, make perogies in their Royal Bay home. Lia, who was born in Ukraine and still has close family in Kyiv, is making and selling perogies to raise money for Ukrainians affected by the Russian invasion. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Colwood’s Lia Butler works full-time for the government. She has a four-year-old child, another who turns two on ­Sunday, and is expecting her third in a few months. With the rest of her time, the 31-year-old makes perogies to raise money for her native Ukraine.

Half of the proceeds go to a non-profit that outfits the ­military, half to her step-brother and a childhood friend who ­distribute cash to those they find in need her hometown, Kyiv.

So far, Butler and her mother, Alla Pavlihkin, have turned out more than 1,000 ­perogies, ­raising more than $2,000. There’s no end in sight to orders from Victorians who have been snapping them up, paying $10 for a bag of about a dozen.

The work makes Butler happy. “I feel like I’m finally physically doing something,” she said Wednesday. That’s important to her, because it has been hard standing by while her friends and family suffered in Ukraine. She gave money to the Red Cross right after the invasion, but then found herself wondering “Now what?”

So, the perogy effort began. Butler has been making them non-stop, both meat and vegetarian versions. She sells them largely through her Facebook page. She cried when a woman from the Ukrainian Cultural Centre brought her a batch of dough on the weekend, saving her time.

Butler has lived in Victoria since she was six, coming here with her family after a couple of years in Israel. “Every time we moved, it was due to civil unrest,” she says.

She has always kept close ties to Kyiv, though, last visiting the capital in 2019. Her maternal grandmother is there, as are two uncles, their wives, their ­children.

That makes the war way too close to home for ­Butler.

She speaks to cousins and friends in Kyiv, people her own age, who tell her about not being able to get to shelters and having to hide out in their bathrooms instead.

“It’s absolutely surreal.”

Butler’s is far from the only local fundraising efforts for Ukraine. Among the others:

• Victoria’s Ukrainian Cultural Centre takes donations that will go to humanitarian aid (though it can’t issue tax receipts). It also suggests contributing to three aid organizations:

- The Canada Ukraine Foundation has been providing food packages, medical supplies and shelter to victims of the war.

- The Vancouver-based Maple Hope Foundation pays for medical supplies and protective gear.

- Caritas Ukraine has volunteers who risk their lives driving into Ukraine to evacuate those most at risk, including the elderly and sick children who need hospital treatment.

• The Compassionate Resource Warehouse and Soap For Hope Canada are packing a shipping container with hygiene products, humanitarian aid and medical supplies for refugees in the Polish-Ukrainian border area. They’re asking for personal hygiene products such as body lotion, bars of wrapped soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, brushes, face cloths, towels and feminine products. There is also a call for baby items (diapers, diaper cream, baby shampoo, baby lotion) and basic first aid items.

Donations will be accepted from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at 426b William St. and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 12 at Second Hand Hope, 444 William St.

• Victoria’s Westcoast ­Appliance has promised its staff and the public that it will match a total of $6,000 in donations for Ukraine. Anyone giving to a ­registered Canadian charity ­providing aid to that country need only show a receipt for the donation — either at the store or by emailing [email protected] — and the company will give an identical amount.

• Staff and clients of the ­Cyclebeat Club spin studio on Johnson Street raised $2,540 for the Red Cross’s Ukraine appeal after the company made last weekend’s classes free in exchange for a donation.