Ukrainian single mom receives big surprise days after arriving in Kelowna – Okanagan |

Julia Makavchuk and her children Diana, 13, and Maksym, 15, arrived in Kelowna last Saturday.

The trio fled war-torn Ukraine in hopes of finding a safe place to live.

Six days after arriving in the Okanagan, they received a big surprise — one on four wheels.

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“I had the opportunity to buy a new car and I could obviously just sell this one and get some money,” said Ryan Hosaki.

But instead of selling his 2003 Honda Pilot, the family donated it to a family fleeing the war.

“We feel just very fortunate that when we wake up, our concerns are fairly trivial compared to those of people around the world,” Hosaki said.

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“So we just thought if we could help out, we’ll do it.”

His wife, Kristen Bonin, echoed the sentiment.

“I’m excited for this opportunity, to be able to give back to somebody, especially somebody coming from such hardship,”  Bonin said.

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On Friday, the Kelowna couple, along with their six-year-old daughter, handed over the vehicle to the newly arrived family of three.

“We just wanted to welcome you guys to the country and let you know that you’re very welcome and supported,” said Hosaki as he handed over the vehicle’s keys.

Speaking through a translator, Makavchuk told Global News she was very grateful.

She added that the donation was “a big surprise for them and that they did not expect it and that it’s exactly what they need right now to settle here.”

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Bonin added that they also wanted to use the opportunity to teach their daughter, Kaia, about compassion and caring for others, especially during times of difficulty.

“I think it’s also important that we share these with our children, and so we wanted to have our daughter here today, to be part of this experience,” Bonin said.

The couple reached out to the group Kelowna Stands with Ukraine to find a family in need.

The organization’s president said it was tough to pick a family because there are numerous in need, but he chose the Makavchuks because they had just arrived and wanted to give them a good start in Canada.

“It was a pretty hard choice,” admitted Denys Storozhuk.

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Storozhuk added he was touched by the gesture and continues to be amazed by Kelowna residents and their desire to help Ukrainians.

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“Kelowna is the most generous city,” Storozhuk said.

“Kelowna people think about community and about people who come here to live in this community. And with Ukrainians, of course, it’s pretty clear what’s happening and every help is appreciated.”

The unexpected gift has left the new arrivals with a great first impression of how Canadians are.

“Friendly and caring,” said Makavchuk, adding that the huge donation has already made them feel at home.

Hosaki said he and Bonin feel great about lending a helping hand.

“We did it,” said Hosaki, “because it would make us feel good and them feel good.”

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