CHICAGO - Since Russia invaded Ukraine three weeks ago, there has been a local outpouring of support for the country and its refugees. With each passing day, more symbols of unity and additional efforts to help are popping up across Chicagoland.
On Thursday, various groups worked to send, not only humanitarian aid overseas, but also symbols of hope.
"It’s very tough to see it. I think I can speak for almost every Ukrainian who lives in the U.S., we’re constantly calling our family back home," said Dmytro Mysak, Rush University medical student.
When Mysak isn't in class or studying, his focus is more than 5,000 miles away. He moved to the United States when he was three years old, but most of his family still lives in Lviv, Ukraine.
"They are doing whatever they can to get by without leaving the country right now," said Mysak. "It’s constantly moving between shelters, going back home, shelters, going back home."
This week, Mysak, along with other Rush University students, faculty and staff held a donation drive on campus.
"The more we see on television and the news, what’s being reported by the president of Ukraine, it’s just so hurtful. Just to see what people are experiencing, especially children and the elderly community," said Sharon Gates, senior director of Student Diversity and Community Engagement, Rush University.
Donations collected by the group include hygiene products, first aid supplies, warm clothing, and activities for children.
"The little girl on the news singing ‘Let It Go’ in Ukrainian – I was so moved by that. It’s like, yeah, even in the midst of this they need to find joy," said Gates.
The items will be packaged and shipped to Poland for Ukrainian refugees by early next week.
"It will hopefully be some form of… they feel the love," said Gates.
Meantime, at Daley Plaza a symbol of unity was raised high above on Thursday.
"There should be no place in the world where a power-hungry machine can over-run a sovereign, peaceful democracy," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
The Ukrainian flag-raising ceremony was held after the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to pass a resolution in support of Ukraine.
"Today, democracy at its very core is being assaulted in this act of war by Russia," said Bridget Degnen, Cook County Commissioner, District 12. "We raise the Ukrainian flag here at Daley Plaza, as a symbol of independence and sovereignty for all democratic nations."