LOCKPORT, Ill. - The war in Ukraine may be half a world away, but students and teachers at a southwest suburban high school are doing their part to help war refugees.
The fundraising effort was sparked by a teacher whose brother is helping refugees in Poland.
Every Wednesday for the past three weeks students and staff at Lockport Township High School have been raising money for Ukrainian refugees by selling sunflowers and donuts decorated with blue and yellow sprinkles.
"We’re trying to raise consciousness," said Lockport Township High School Superintendent Sr. Bob McBride. "So that students understand that there’s a worldwide crisis that’s halfway around the world. But it impacts them in many real ways."
It all started with physical education chair Todd Elkei, who wears a shirt with the Ukrainian flag over the school’s nickname, the Porters.
Elkei’s brother is the principal of a school in Kraków Poland that’s taking in Ukrainian refugees.
"Kids coming over with just a suitcase, a backpack," Elkei said. "Nothing they can bring. Leaving their loved one at home that’s fighting for their country."
Students also showed us a giant banner hanging in a school hallway with messages of support for Ukraine.
"I know there’s kids who’ve donated without even wanting a donut or expecting anything in return," said Junior Dariana Guzmán. "Seeing that has brought a big unity to our school and the community."
Junior Claudia Ogrodny said they plan to continue the fundraisers through the end of the school year.
"For as long we need to because even after the war it’s gonna take a lot to repair what’s been destroyed, unfortunately."
They’re on track now to raise $5000, with the money going directly to a refugee center in Poland.
And recently, that brother in Poland sent a video message to the school from Krakow.
"Porters, thank you very much!" said Brett Elkei. "Chicagoland, thank you very much. And we hope to continue these efforts as this crisis goes on."