Samaritas teams up with Amazon to find help for Ukrainian refugees this holiday season

‘It was very sad because you have to leave home, but you get to see other countries’

DETROIT – Five Ukrainian refugee families are getting to celebrate Christmas a little early this year, all thanks to a partnership between Samaritas and Amazon.

Samaritas has been welcoming refugees from all over the world for the last 30 years; most recently, most of those refugees come from Ukraine.

“Knowing that these families had to leave everything, including loved ones, behind in their homeland, without the expectation of ever having this as a possibility in their lives to come here and know that there’s a whole brand new community, lifting them up, standing side by side with them, making sure that they have whatever they need,” said Samaritas Chief Advancement Officer Kelli Dobner.

Amazon recognizes the work Samaritas is doing to give the families care and resources while their country is at war, which is why Amazon gifted a $25,000 check to the organization.

But Amazon wanted to do more for five families who have been through a lot by giving them everything on their wish list this Christmas.

“So the Ukrainian families put together a holiday wishlist,” said Amazon spokesperson Austin Stowe. “We set them up on Amazon, they put together a holiday wishlist, and we were able to order all of those different things that they wanted, whether it be toys, gadgets, coats, you know, household needs.”

One of those families receiving assistance is Olessa Lucas and her two sons, who came to America two months ago.

“It was very sad because you have to leave home, but on the other side, you get to see other countries,” said Lukach through her translator.

Lukach told Local 4 that the excitement of experiencing a new country also included experiencing the holidays differently.

“In Ukrainian, we have a different celebration for Christmas,” said the translator. “We don’t exchange presents, so they were very surprised to get so many presents.”

Her two sons were overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude, knowing that they got to take home all the gifts.

“It’s visible how they are excited,” the translator said.

In addition to all the amazing gifts, each family received a $1,000 gift card from Amazon to purchase whatever they desired.

About the Authors:

You can watch Kim on the morning newscast weekdays from 4:30 to 7 a.m., and frequently doing reports on the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.