As the war between Russia and Ukraine continues on, the Erie community has been fundraising and collecting donations for those in Ukraine.

Those same efforts are being made for one Ukrainian native that was also a former Erie Otters player from 2002-2005.

The hockey community and Erie residents stepped up to raise money to help one of their own.

Alex Karaulchuk, a former Erie Otter, had to flee Ukraine with his wife and two kids. Karaulchuk took only one suitcase full of belongings and traveled to the Czech Republic to start a new life.

“We’ve kept in contact with him since he left. He visited us about 10 years ago. We just felt we wanted to help him and his family,” said Mary Spaeder, Billet Family.

Karaulchuk played hockey for the Erie Otters from 2002 to 2005. During those years he stayed with his billet family, the Spaeders.

The Spaeders have already raised $12,000 from starting a GoFundMe. They are hoping for the same outcome with Sunday’s fundraiser which includes raffles and autographed jerseys from Connor McDavid and Sydney Crosby.

“With the GoFundMe and everything we are doing here at the raffle, it should be about $25,000. So it’s a little bit to help him get started with his new life,” said Shawn Waskiewicz, Fundraising Co Chairman.

Waskiewicz called Karaulchuk on the phone during the fundraiser so he could thank everyone for their support.

“20 years ago when I came to the United States and I came to Erie, I’m still feeling it. Thank you very much for what all of you what you did for my family and for my country too. Thank you very much,” said Alex Karauluch, Former Erie Otter.

Karaulchuk’s billet family hopes that the money will be enough for right now to help him and his family.

“I just hope it gets him ahead enough to give him some time to be able to find a job or possibly the next country he would go to,” said James Spaeder, Billet Brother.

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If you want to donate to the GoFundMe, click here.