As the world has learned in recent weeks, there are strong Ukrainians and then strong Ukrainians.
Ukrainians around the world have received an overwhelming response of support and solidarity from non-Ukrainians since Russia’s February 24 invasion.
The colors of blue and yellow are flying at rallies and demonstrations throughout Metro Detroit and beyond in overwhelming support and urges for help and relief for the people of Ukraine.
The Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit has allocated approximately $1.4 million in rescue and relief funds to Jewish Ukrainians.
“The Jewish community is extremely concerned about this,” said Rabbi Asher Lopatin, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC in Bloomfield Hills. “We are totally focused and praying for Ukraine and taking this very seriously.”
According to the Jewish Federation website, there are around 200,000 members of Ukraine’s Jewish population, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Jewish Federation funds are intended for temporary housing and emergency kits for refugees, food and medical supplies, care for the elderly and more.
Many Ukrainians in the Detroit metropolitan area have direct ties to family members and friends abroad.
Warren resident Lesia Osypova is from Ternopil in western Ukraine and her husband is from Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine near the Black Sea.
On March 1, Osypova created an Amazon registry with medical supplies needed by the Ukrainian army. Within the first two hours of posting the link on social media, 1,000 items – out of 5,000 listed – were purchased.
“I reached out to other New Jersey volunteers and a nurse gave me some ideas of the most wanted items in the military,” she said. “I’m so surprised at how many people responded.”
Thinking that the link would only reach a few friends, Osypova did not expect the overwhelming amount of purchased items. By the next day, her porch was covered with Amazon boxes and packages of donated items.
As more and more packages arrive at her house each day, Osypova works to organize and pack the supplies to be shipped. The logistics of shipping overseas to Poland can be tricky. Flights depart from Chicago and New Jersey weekly, so trucks must be driven to airports in time to be loaded onto the plane.
Staying in touch with her family in Ukraine, Osypova will be able to find out when items are being delivered and what is needed as soon as shipments start arriving. She plans to continue accepting donations on her Amazon page and will update with more or different items as needed.
The Ukrainian American Crisis Response Committee of Michigan, a grassroots coalition of community members and organizations formed about two months ago when Russian President Vladimir Putin began mustering troops on the Ukrainian border, also collects and ships military donations to Ukraine.
“The organization was formed to respond in case the worst happened, which it has now,” said Jordan Fylonenko, communications manager for the committee.
The committee is made up of representatives from most major Ukrainian organizations, including the Ukrainian Cultural Center, Ukrainian Immaculate Conception School, St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Ukrainian Immaculate Conception Church, and Ukrainian Selfdependence Michigan Credit Union.
Since the initial Russian attack, the crisis committee has held several Pray for Ukraine rallies and events in the Detroit metro, which some local government officials have attended.
Their current focus is collecting and shipping military supplies, surgical aid, and home defense donations, under the direction of relief coordinator Anya Nona.
In conjunction with the Ukrainian American Crisis Response Committee of Michigan, the Ukrainian Children’s Aid and Relief Effort (UCare) will host a Humanitarian Aid Campaign for Ukrainian children from 1-7 p.m. March 21-26 at St. Mary’s. , 21931 Evergreen Road, in Southfield. Volunteers will collect new or lightly used clothing, shoes, diapers, formula, baby bottles, hygiene items, toys and first aid supplies throughout the campaign.
Troy resident Vera Petrusha founded UCare in 1997 to help children living in orphanages in Ukraine. Petrusha is a parishioner and board member of St. Mary’s Cathedral, which has opened its facilities for many events and collections over the years.
UCare will accept monetary donations in addition to collecting items, which will be used to cover shipping costs, such as fuel.
The war has also struck close to home three Ukrainian-born dance teachers at Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Bloomfield Township, who each have immediate family members in Ukraine who are in desperate need of emergency assistance. , according to studio owner Evan Mountain. In support of instructors Viktor Tkachenko, Yuliya Lukina and Mykhailo Annıenkov, Mountain is hosting a month-long fundraiser, “Waltz for Ukraine”, to raise funds that will go directly to their families to provide food, a shelter and other basic needs they may have. The studio is also offering a free waltz dance class for individuals or couples (a $115 value) for anyone who donates to help the families of their teachers.
If you would like to participate in the “Waltz for Ukraine” event and receive a free dance lesson, call 248-454-1715 to schedule. Donations can be made at bit.ly/3I6jLzb.
For more information on local events and donation opportunities from the organizations listed above, visit:
• The Jewish Federation: jewishdetroit.org
• Ukrainian American Michigan Crisis Response Committee: uacrisisresponse.org
• Ukrainian Child Aid and Relief Effort: ucareinc.org
• Lesia Osypova Amazon Registry: amzn.to/3KoqINm