Local organizations launch campaigns to support Ukraine

Local organizations launch campaigns to support Ukraine

Local charities and organizations in Jacksonville have joined the global rally to support the people of Ukraine. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February, millions of Ukrainians have fled the country with little more than whatever they could carry — or, in some cases, nothing at all — seeking safety in other countries while millions more remain trapped in war zones with little to no access to transportation, food, water or medicine.

The Jacksonville community has extended its own hand to offer whatever help it can provide in the form of monetary and physical donations or — as the White House has vowed to welcome as many as 100,000 refugees into the U.S. — to offer safe harbor where these people can begin to rebuild their lives.

Catholic Charities Jacksonville’s Refugee Resettlement team has already begun preparations to welcome at least 35 such refugees and Anna Lindler, director of Community Services, said the flood of donations, from furniture to toys and diapers to artwork to make a house feel like a home, has been incredible.

“The community support and just their — oh gosh, we’re just so blessed to have them,” she said. “Not only through donations, but volunteers. It is just incredible. So everybody all together makes this happen. We have just this outpouring of people, just wonderful people in Jacksonville and really all over.”

While any and all donations are welcome, Lindler added that hygiene products and first aid kits are high on the priority list. To that end, local brewpub Legacy Ale Works is launching its own drive for hygiene products to donate to Catholic Charities Jacksonville, beginning now and running until April 20, when it will also host a fundraiser event for Ukrainian refugees.

“I’m just glad this particular opportunity was able to come about because that help that we looked to give was really gonna have a local impact,” said Legacy Ale Works co-owner Elizabeth Jacobs.

For those wishing to help the people still on the ground in Ukraine, either unable or unwilling to leave their homes, United Way for Northeast Florida and the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Northeast Florida have campaigns running and standing ready for donations.

Three days after Russia’s invasion began, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA)— the umbrella organization of which this local federation is a part — launched its “Extraordinary Campaign for Ukraine:” A $20 million campaign “to provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Jewish populations living in Ukraine.” These funds are distributed to JFNA’s global partners and agencies who are in Ukraine and are able to see those funds applied to the maximum benefit.

“…What makes this unique in a sense is that we didn’t have to land there, get things set up and then figure out what to do,” said Mariam Feist, CEO of the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Northeast Florida, of JFNA’s global partners and agencies. “That’s why our dollars were being able to be used so quickly. These people need dollars so we can provide them the transportation, get them out, get food, get medicine. All of that that they’re not able to get right now.”

Since its launch, the campaign has raised more than $23 million. Of that total, Feist said, the Northeast Florida federation has raised nearly $240,000.

There are 200,000 Jews in Ukraine and what is happening there now is “unconscionable,” Feist said.

“Many of them have survived the Holocaust, they’re 90 years old and these atrocities are bringing up memories they should never be living through again, especially in their final years,” she added.

Likewise, United Way of Northeast Florida is referring community members eager to help to donate to “United for Ukraine,” United Way Worldwide’s campaign to provide funds for immediate support for the people of Ukraine, including transportation, food and medicine and childcare supplies.

“By donating to United Way, you’re supporting vetted, nonpartisan organizations on the ground and providing vital help to those who need it most,” a statement on the campaign’s webpage said. “This situation is fluid and there is no doubt the needs will be great and will continue for some time.”

To make a monetary donation or for more information about donating furniture or other physical items to Catholic Charities Jacksonville, please visit https://www.ccbjax.org/ukraine.

Donations to JFNA’s “Extraordinary Campaign for Ukraine” can be made online at jewishjacksonville.org/campaignforukraine.

To donate to “United for Ukraine,” please visit https://secure.unitedway.org/a/unitedforukraine.

By Michele Leivas
Resident Community News

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