TEHKUMMAH—As the ongoing tragedy that is the war in Ukraine began to unfold last February, Tehkummah’s George Kopylov found himself in a dilemma. With plenty of friends and family on both sides of the divide, the building contractor struggled to find a way to make a difference.
“These two countries are very close,” he said of Russia and Ukraine, comparing local interactions to those of the United States and Canada. “I have lots of friends there; I feel like it’s like a civil war. I asked myself ‘what can I do?’
The challenge, Kopylov explained, is that he knows both countries very well. “There is a lot of corruption in both countries,” he said. “I didn’t think I could send aid without it disappearing somewhere along the way and not reaching the people who need it. It would be stolen.
Then it came to him.
“I am part of a worldwide meditation group (Ananda Marga Universal Relief Fund [AMURT]), much like yoga, with groups in countries all over the world,” he said. “There is a group in Ukraine.” Mr. Kopylov reached out and quickly contacted the band members in Ukraine. “That way I could work with people I trust.”
AMURT is a worldwide spiritual and social service organization founded in India in 1955 by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti (Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar). Since then, the organization has spread to every corner of the Earth. The mission of Ananda Marga is self-realization (individual emancipation) and service to humanity (collective well-being): the satisfaction of the physical, mental and spiritual needs of all people.
This contact at ground level quickly proved fruitful. A group of volunteers was set up to seek out and help those most in need, and Mr Kopylov began sending whatever funds he could to the group. In return, he received photos of some of the people assisted by the group.
“But the need was so great that I knew my contributions weren’t going to be enough,” he said. Then the idea of organizing a charity auction came to him. Mr. Kopylov and his employee Evan Roy set to work turning a pile of wooden bric-a-brac lying around into cedar planters.
“I reached out to (Expositor editor) Alicia (McCutcheon), and she really got things going,” Mr. Kopylov said. “She contacted (the island’s auctioneer) Norm (Morrell) and made arrangements.” The Little Current Business Improvement Association’s Canada Day celebrations provided the perfect venue for the live auction and, with a few well-placed advertisements, donations for the auction quickly poured in.
“Someone (Dr Roy Jeffery) even donated a sailboat (the Turner ‘Barney’ ship),” Mr Kopylov said. From painted eggs so appropriate to jewelry and a stained glass window, there will be plenty to bid for when the hammer begins to fall, and every penny will go towards providing nonviolent support to those on the ground in Ukraine who need it most.
The auction will feature cedar furniture, artwork, solar panels, gift baskets, jewelry, antiques and more. Those wishing to donate items to the cause can contact Debbie at [email protected] (705) 368-2744 or George at [email protected]
The live auction will take place Friday, July 1 at 1 p.m. at Expositor Square in downtown Little Current. Norm Morrell of Norm Morrell Auctions will officiate. All proceeds from the event will go to AMURT to provide on-the-ground social and psychological support to the Ukrainian people.