Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, killing more than 400 civilians and injuring close to one thousand others in less than 12 days, according to the United Nations.
On the international front, western countries are sending arms and other aid to Ukraine after beefing up sanctions on Russia, all in hopes of convincing Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull back his troops.
But locally in the tri-state area, a number of grassroots organizations are now stepping up to help Ukrainian families directly.
If you’re looking to assist with local Ukrainian relief efforts, here are some ways that you can help.
‘Eat Borscht, stand with Ukraine’ at Veselka restaurant in the East Village
Ukrainian restaurant Veselka, in the heart of Little Ukraine in NYC’s East Village, has been working to raise money and awareness of the crisis in the Eastern European nation since Russia’s invasion.
With a large Ukrainian flag out front and a line around the block, Veselka’s donations and humanitarian aid are coming in the form of diapers, clothing, and food for the people of Ukraine, which are collected by the third-generation owner of the 54-year-old restaurant.
“Ukrainian comfort food brings the community together,” Jason Birchard, Veselka’s owner, told PIX11 News. “People want to sympathize. They want to come together to support. It is really an act of love.”
Now, he’s efforting a campaign that will both: fuel your belly and warm your heart all at once, by selling borsht, a staple Ukrainian beet soup. You can dine in or take it on the go, with the red soup starting at $6 per cup and $14 per bowl.
In less than 10 days, Veselka has raised $25,000 in borsht sales, with 100% of proceeds going to Razom For Ukraine, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting Ukrainians’ quest for democracy.
“New Yorkers are strong. Ukrainians are strong,” Birchard said, adding, “We want action. We want to keep the Ukrainian culture alive.”
To learn more or help support this campaign, visit: https://www.veselka.com
Volunteer in South Brooklyn with a local humanitarian group that sends direct donations daily
What started as a single family effort has grown into a steadfast community organization, all in the span of two weeks.
Just 10 days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, one Brooklyn group of neighbors has amassed 30 daily volunteers, many of whom still have family overseas.
The group began as neighbors helping neighbors, accepting donations to ship to Ukraine from the lobby of a Bath Beach apartment building.
“We’re doing our best to centralize donations as there appears to be a huge demand to help,” said Oleh Dubno, a full-time software employee who works on logistics for this effort in between work commitments.
Today, the group is shipping roughly 500 boxes of humanitarian aid to Ukraine per day.
The idea came together by mother-daughter duo Marina and Daniella Matiko after watching Russia’s invasion unfold. Now, volunteers collect daily donations by way of an Amazon Wish List, curated by group organizers, and purchased by people who want to help from all across NYC.
In the past few days, the group has secured a new space to work, and is now sifting through donations at Brooklyn’s Saint Finbar Catholic Church at 1839 Bath Ave. Right now, they say the focus is on medical aid, as there’s currently a fair amount of food and clothing at the borders.
Once sorted, all items are sent to Lviv, Ukraine via a route from U.S. to Poland, with the help of Nova Poshta, an international shipping group.
To help this grassroots, humanitarian effort with money, food, or by volunteering, visit: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N0EWCDs9pNGcrG76QixGbg2rNjvMEFL2rrswA_GTXMc/mobilebasic
Get some art therapy with Creatively while supporting children in Ukraine
Marina Mirchevskaya launched Creatively Box in April 2020, just weeks after the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the east coast and put the tri-state area on pause. Now, this Queens local is using art to support Ukrainian relief efforts.
“I have many friends/family from Ukraine, so I’ve been going through mixed emotions and wondering how I can help as the war unfolds,” Mirchevskaya said.
So, she turned to art. Her monthly DIY art box allows anyone craving some color to participate in a paint party — right from the comfort of home.
“I created a special painting for next month’s box called “One Love”, which shares a simple message of peace and hope. The sunflower is not only a symbol of Ukraine, but also a symbol of joy and peace. My goal is for us to come together to offer compassion and show support for the Ukrainian people while creating something beautiful.”
Mirchevskaya says that she will be donating 15% of each sale of the One Love box to Save The Children Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund, a non-profit that has been working to protect children caught in the crossfire of war since 2014. The organization provides Ukrainian children and families with food, water, emotional support, and cash assistance.
Learn more about how you can participate: https://creativelybox.com/product/one-love/
Queens Borough President working on a donation drive for Ukrainians in need
Donations of first-aid kits, bandages, gauze, tourniquets, Aspirin, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen and other medical supplies can be dropped off on the first floor of Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.
The collected supplies will be delivered to the NYPD, which is also conducting its own donation drive across all 77 precincts.
On the national scale — these groups are working around the clock to provide assistance for displaced Ukrainian refugees, as well as those still in the embattled county.
Nationally, there are many organizations working on Ukrainian relief efforts. Here are a number of vetted groups that you can support.
Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders is an independent organization that provides medical care where it’s needed the most. Its team in Ukraine is working to help residents access necessary health care, as well as training the country’s doctors and nurses to provide medical treatment to those needing medical attention.
For more information and how to help, click here.
International Committee of the Red Cross
The Red Cross is helping those affected by the ongoing conflict. The agency has been working to provide water to those in Dokuchaevsk and Donetsk, President Peter Maurer said in a statement.
You can make a monetary donation to the Red Cross’ efforts in Ukraine by clicking here.
The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, mandates aid and protects those displaced by violence. The agency says nearly three million people in Ukraine will need humanitarian assistance this year. Click here to donate to the UNHCR’s donation fund for Ukraine.
UNICEF, or the United Nations Children’s Fund, is a UN agency that oversees providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children around the world. UNICEF is working to provide safe water and other necessities, as well as ensuring there is immediate help for children and families in need.
For more details about UNICEF and to make a donation, click here.
Ukraine Crisis Media Center
The non-governmental organization based in Kyiv, the Ukraine Crisis Media Center launched in 2014 when Russia occupied Crimea. The group aims to “promote the development of a self-sufficient Ukrainian state and society.”
The Ukraine Crisis Media Center offers tips on how to help Ukraine during this crisis.
Addy Bink and Nexstar Media Wire contributed to this report.