Hosting Ukrainians in Fort Saskatchewan (HUFS) is March's Half Grand Helping Hand winner, courtesy of South Fort Chevrolet and MIX 107.
Francee Kaehn, the chairperson and one of the founders of HUFS, was at South Fort Chevrolet to accept the $500 cheque.
"I think for the moment [the money] will go into general funds," said Kaehn. "We feel it'll go into general funds to continue to provide financial assistance for the families moving out, and also for the hosts."
It's been a very busy week for HUFS as the world reflects on the Russian war in Ukraine passing the one-year mark last Friday (Feb. 24).
To commemorate all the brave Ukrainians feeling the effects of the war, HUFS hosted a vigil at Pioneer House that saw speeches from local officials, including former premier Ed Stelmach.
Perhaps the most emotional part of the night was when Nataliia Bereziuk, a Ukrainian refugee who fled the war, told her harrowing story.
While HUFS has done amazing work in the community over the past year, Kaehn says that they are seeing a bit of a shortage when it comes to people hosting families.
"Our understanding is that the cities have become overwhelmed, and they are advocating for the outlying communities to accept more Ukrainians," said Kaehn. "If there are any newcomers coming to the Fort, it's really imperative that some hosts step up."
"Unfortunately, that's not happening."
There have been about a dozen host families in the community over the past year that worked together with HUFS. Kaehn is thankful for those families and understands how big of a decision it is to host a new family.
"Many of [hosts] think about hosting again, but so far haven't stepped up, they need a little break, it's a big commitment," said Kaehn.
Despite this, HUFS has seen a very high turnaround rate in getting Ukrainian families into a more independent living situation.
"I think at least 90 per cent of the families who came have now moved out on their own into independent living," said Kaehn.
For those looking to get involved with HUFS and potentially become a host for a Ukrainian family fleeing war, you can visit their Facebook page here.