Chicago volunteers collect items for Ukraine: 'Makes me proud'
CHICAGO - Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, local Ukrainian Americans are stepping up and giving everything they have to support their loved ones overseas.
On Monday, volunteers met at Meest Karparty — an international shipping service located in the 6700 block of West Belmont Avenue in the Dunning neighborhood — where they collected thousands of items to be packaged and shipped to Ukraine.
"We are all heartbroken here. Like, imagine having your family, right now, fighting for their lives, sacrificing," said Maryana Shcypula.
Like other Ukrainian Americans, Shcypula is determined to help – no matter how far away.
Donations collected on Monday include first aid supplies, military and safety gear, food, clothing, diapers, and other hygiene products.
The items are desperately needed by family members in Ukraine, like one of Shcypula’s cousins, who has been hiding out in her basement for five days.
"She said they are running out of food, everything. The bombing, happening 24/7," said Shcypula. "This is just the little, tiniest help I can give to my country, to my people."
More than 5,000 miles from Ukraine, volunteers and donors came from all over Chicago and the suburbs to join in this effort — one that hits very close to home for so many.
"I’m here because I love my family and I love my people and I will do everything in my power to help them," said Maria Solonynko, volunteer.
"It’s really cool the community is gathering around, actually helping out," said volunteer Dmytro Kuzin.
On March 2, once packed up, the items will be driven by truck to Meest-America in New Jersey, where they will be loaded onto planes and sent abroad.
"It just makes me proud to be Ukrainian at this moment. Makes me very uplifted, makes me feel like there is nothing that can conquer us, nothing that can break us," said volunteer Taras Nebesnyy.
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FOX 32 is told the dozens of volunteers in attendance Monday have been collecting monetary donations, which will cover the cost of shipping these items to Ukraine.
"It’s a sense of pride, and I know we are going to win this war. We already won this war because I don’t know if there are people in this world that are more united than this and we love each other," said Solonynko.
Together, they are sending strength from Chicago as Ukraine fights to maintain its freedom.
"I know we’re going to win, and I know we’re going to have Ukraine back. Slava Ukrani," said Maria Buchwak-Iwanec, Meest Karpaty manager.
The donation drive will continue on Tuesday, Mar. 1 starting at 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Donations can be dropped off at Meest Karpaty, located at 6725 W. Belmont Ave. Volunteers tell FOX32 they currently have the most need for first aid supplies, underwear, socks, boots, and safety gear.