Westmont community gathers supplies to help Ukrainians fleeing their homes

The searing images of violence in Ukraine are prompting thousands of people here in the Chicago area to mobilize.

In west suburban Westmont, a major relief effort is underway to help feed, clothe and protect refugees and those still in Ukraine.

"I brought lots of winter clothes, pajamas and coats for babies basically," said Kristin Simon, As she unloaded boxes of supplies from her car.

Simon is among the scores of suburban residents responding to a call for help.

"It’s humanity, right?" said Rumaisa Rahman of Oak Brook. "Seeing families affected. Homeless. It really tugs at the heartstrings. People are people."

Diana Herha and her husband were both born in Ukraine and now live in Oak Brook. 

On Tuesday, Herha and State Rep. Deanne Mazzocchi appealed for help on social media, asking for donations of non-perishable food, first aid kits and medical supplies, diapers, warm clothing and shoes, hats, gloves, blankets and even Kevlar vests for aid workers and street fighters.


Mazzochi, a Republican from Westmont, said something amazing happened. 

"It’s absolutely heartwarming to see the wonderful response that we’ve had from people trying to help."

Two small trucks were needed to drive the donations to a Ukrainian cargo company, which will put the supplies on a plane to Poland Wednesday night, where some of it will be distributed at refugee camps on the Ukrainian border.

"Some of the other things, like the tactical gear, the thermal clothing, I believe there are some transmission radios, those will be going straight to the front lines," Herha said. "Truckers are going to be trucking them into Kyiv. We hate watching our friends and families, our country men suffer. And the only thing we could think of doing was just gathering supplies."

Because of the outpouring of support, donations will continue to be collected at Rep. Mazzochi’s Westmont office until noon on Friday.

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