PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Donation drives in the Delaware Valley to aid the people of Ukraine have found incredible levels of response, far beyond what organizers could have anticipated.
These organizations are also laying the groundwork for the next step of Ukrainian refugee assistance, particularly for those who come to Philadelphia.
Members of Presentation of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church in Lansdale and sister parish St. Anne’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Warrington held numerous Donate for Ukraine days, where community members gave items like diapers, personal hygiene items, and medical supplies.
Volunteers like Ellen Kostrubiak have sorted and packed about 5,000 boxes and about 1,000 mobility aids between the parishes, while they also gathered $18,000 in cash donations.
“There was such an overwhelming response, we had to kind of take a step back and say ‘Okay, now what?” said Kostrubiak.
Organizers networked and involved humanitarian organizations to figure out a plan for supplies to get to Ukraine. That plan will involve three tractor-trailer trucks that are expected to pick up the donations on Saturday. Volunteers will be pressed into service once again to load the boxes onto the trucks.
“We need something to happen, and we need to support these people, and we need to make it safe there somehow. We just have to pray that our leaders do what the right thing is and make it better,” added Kostrubiak.
“From our community, the Ukrainian Catholic community, we have some immediate family members that are still there. We have family members that have gone from here to back over there to try and help with the relief effort. It just hits very close to home, and people just had to help.”
Community members are already planning the next event to help Ukrainians.
In the event refugees are permitted to come to the region, organizers are creating a list of people offering rooms, and even their vacation homes.
“This Ukrainian crisis is not just touching people of Ukrainian descent. It’s touching everybody because it’s a humanitarian crisis,” said Adrienne Wilbourne, co-chair for the Saint Anne’s Aid for Ukraine donation drive.
“People who are Uber drivers or Lyft drivers [are] offering to provide transportation to and from the airport. My mom is actually collecting names of people who are willing to offer homes, give jobs or serve as interpreters if the United States allows the people to come over here.”
Wilbourne, a Ukrainian-American, said this effort at her parish began the same way so many others did, as a response to the pain they have witnessed in Ukraine.
“Just like everybody else, my mom and I were watching TV and crying, and we are not the kind of people that can just sit here and watch. We are doers,” Wilbourne said.
“The Ukrainian people are uniting the world. All walks of life are coming together to help, and it is something that is uniting humanity.”
Click below for more ways to help these churches:
- Presentation of our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church, Lansdale