Eight-year-old Airdrie resident Sophia Drachevskyy spent several hours over the weekend working at a lemonade stand with one of her best friends. She raised nearly $200 and will be sending the proceeds to various organizations that are working in Ukraine to help animals impacted by the war.

Sophia's brother, Artem Drachevskyy, who is 17, explained that with the recent collapse of a massive dam in Ukraine - the Kakhovka dam, over 17,000 people have been impacted by flooding from the reservoir. And with the human toll, also comes disastrous consequences for both livestock, family pets, as well as stray animals - many of whom were left behind when families fled.

"There's a group of volunteers that have been going around and basically helping these animals; my sister wanted to help. She set up a lemonade stand and the money she raised will be going to those people that are volunteering to help the animals," he said. "I think this is a very nice thing that she's doing. It sort of came out of nowhere, and she wanted to help and so she did."

He added that although there are many fundraising initiatives in Ukraine, organizations that are helping animals are near and dear to his family's heart.

"In Ukraine, everyone I knew, even in my family, everyone has a lot of animals; it's a big part of our culture. Because of the war, so many people left and couldn't take their animals. It's very heartbreaking." 

The Drachevskyy family moved from Ukraine to Canada in 2014, but much of his family, including his grandparents still reside in Ukraine. He calls his grandparents often and said that when the war in Ukraine in February 2023 things were dire and have been dire since.

"When the war began, it was really bad, where they were being bombed almost every single night and it's become very similar to that again. I was talking to my grandma yesterday morning and she was telling me about all throughout May, it's gotten really bad again The metro stations are being used as shelters."

While the Drachevskyy family has in the past gone to visit family in Ukraine, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the current war have halted their summer plans. Drachevskyy said he already knows what he will do when he sees his family. 

"I will hug my whole family," he said. 

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), there have been recorded 23,606 civilian casualties in Ukraine since the beginning of the war in February. 

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