While the world watched Russia invade Ukraine, Happy Valley resident Klavdia Moore cried. She cried for days because her homeland was again besieged by an aggressive nation. With a deep fear for her family living in Ukraine and for the millions of residents now at war, Moore decided to act.
"It was the 24th of February, and I was at home alone. Watching the news broke my heart," Moore said. "I was devastated, but I often send packages to family living in Ukraine, so I called to see if I could send aid packages that could help others."
Moore connected with a Ukrainian nonprofit to distribute aid packages in Berdyansk, a port city in southeastern Ukraine, and went on social media to ask people to help her collect useful items for Ukrainians, including nonperishable food. The volunteers met in Gladstone at Nazarene of Help.
Moore was shocked by the number of volunteers and the volume of aid. She enlisted three Ukrainian friends — Rita Russo, Olga Scherbakova and Evghenia Sincariuc — and together they started the nonprofit Ukrainian Care Inc. To date, they have delivered over 1,400 boxes of supplies in two cargo containers, raised over $12,000 and provided thousands of loaves of bread to hungry Ukrainians.
"It is important for me to say thank you to everyone who has come out to help. Regular people, not businesses, came out to help us package aid. We had huge community support, especially in Happy Valley, which was incredible," Moore said. "For three days in March, people helped us and were generous with their time and donations."
Because accumulating goods and shipping takes time and Ukrainians are starving, the nonprofit decided to connect with bakers in Ukraine and hire them to make bread, another humanitarian organization would then distribute the loaves.
"Klavdia saw the need for bread. People who come from occupied areas and are resettled, they come to the nearby cities, and they have nothing," Sincariuc said. "Shipping aid was incredibly expensive, and we wanted to maximize our dollars to help the most Ukrainians possible."
Their original baker, the brother of one of Klavdia's friends, baked for weeks until he was displaced and had to flee his city. The organization then worked to find another baker and set up the aid process again this time in Zaporizhzhia, in the Oblast region. The humanitarian distributor, a woman named Inna, also distributes soup and meat from other donors. Because of inflation, they are seeing their monetary donations providing less and less for Ukrainians. Moore estimates over 10,000 loaves of bread have been made and donated from her nonprofit's efforts.
Ideally, the women would like the war to end immediately, but if it doesn't, they are concerned people will become desensitized to the conflict and stop helping.
"It looks like the war will continue for quite a while. People should remember that Ukraine is not so far from them and showing humanity is appreciated. In America we have so much food, and we waste food. We have parties, and yet there are people starving in Ukraine, babies too. Women lose their milk when stressed and there is no formula for them. We want people to give a little help, even one dollar can make two loaves of bread, but for the price of a cup of coffee, you could provide 10 loaves of bread for Ukrainians who are in an awful situation that they didn't create," Sincariuc said.
As an agricultural country, Russia has taken control of the fields and routed crops to places like Crimea. Livestock are being slaughtered to weaken Ukrainians. Sincariuc says store shelves are running bare and recently she took in a Ukrainian family who stayed in her home for a month. She says the young boy in the family had been so traumatized by hunger that he kept opening her refrigerator.
"In Ukraine, homes are generational, and people don't want to leave, because they know they might not ever get their home back. Hopefully, we can help a few people to prevent them from leaving. They built their entire lives; they are attached to their land and houses," Sincariuc said. "They all live together, these generations. Thank you to the community here. We appreciate all your support. We feel you love Ukrainian people, and they feel your love too."
For more information or to donate, visit ukrainiancare.org.
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