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How Metro Detroiters can help Ukrainians amid escalating crisis


Local Ukrainian-Americans, mobilizing to do everything they can to support those affected by the crisis in Ukraine, say there are several ways Metro Detroiters can help, from donating medical supplies and humanitarian items to supporting specific aid groups. 

The Ukrainian-American Crisis Response Committee of Michigan is a grassroots group of local Ukrainian-Americans of all ages that formed roughly six weeks ago as tensions began to escalate in Ukraine.

The committee is coordinating several drives with churches, businesses and community centers to help those displaced and those still in Ukraine, along with the military. Volunteers will be at a Hamtramck warehouse on Saturday to pack up medical supplies and other goods to be shipped to the front lines in Ukraine.

"We're just trying to mobilize and allocate resources, volunteers, drives, donations," said Jordan Fylonenko, the committee's communications lead. "...There's a lot going on. There's a lot of different groups or businesses that are having their own types of fundraisers. The committee is centering all that information."

More: Local events, drives planned to help Ukrainians

Volunteer Sasha Tkachenko, who has family still in Ukraine, including his father, grandmother and sister, said they're gathering specific medical supplies and priority items to ship to the front lines as quickly as possible. They're also gathering humanitarian aid, such as blankets and nonperishable food.

"Imagine walking out of your house and you lost everything," said Tkachenko. "We're trying to help." 

To find out what's needed, the group's website — uacrisisresponse.org — has two buttons at the top, "Take Action" and "Donate." Under "Take Action," it lists specific medical supplies and humanitarian aid items that are needed. 

The committee also is asking Metro Detroiters to contact their elected representatives and even the White House to tell them why peace in Ukraine is important.

"My first suggestion is to visit the website, read the documents (on the website) about requested items, drop offs, and how to volunteer," said Anya Nona, a volunteer gathering medical supplies, in an email. "There is a form to fill out for volunteer interests, and we will coordinate from that. We greatly appreciate the support the community has shown so far, and I can assure you we will be doing this work for a long time."

Metro Detroit's Ukrainian-American community numbers around 50,000 people with large concentrations in Warren, Hamtramck and on Metro Detroit's west side. There are several Ukrainian churches in Metro Detroit along with the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Warren.

Many arrived in the region after World War II but there's also what Fylonenko refers to as the "new wave," Ukrainians who arrived in the region after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The committee is "trying to do anything to help Ukraine and raise awareness with Americans on what's going on," said  "Our fellow Detroiters do see what's going on, but they don't know how to act. That's why we're trying to help with that."

mfeighan@detroitnews.com

How to Help 

Financial Donations

The Ukrainian-American Crisis Response Committee of Michigan suggests donating funds for humanitarian aid to three different 501(c)(3) charities: the Razom Emergency Fund (razomforukraine.org/razom-emergency-response); Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (ucca.org) and United Ukrainian American Relief Committee (https://www.uuarc.org/). This list, helpsaveukraine.com/, also lists different organizations to support.

Medical Supplies

The committee is looking for dozens of different kinds of medical supplies —including first aid kits, dressings, tourniquets, military medical backpacks and more. Some items require a license to purchase; some can be purchased by the public. Go to uacrisisresponse.org/events and click on "High priority medical items." To drop off items from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, go to 13400 Girardin Street in Hamtramck.

Humanitarian items

The committee also is gathering items for refugees and those on the ground: new warm jackets for women and children; new blankets, hats, gloves; diapers; formula; baby food; baby bottles; and much more. Go to www.uacrisisresponse.org/events and click on "Humanitarian Needs" to see the complete list. Follow guidelines for what's needed.

Bilingual volunteers

Bilingual volunteers who can speak both English and Ukrainian are needed to coordinate support efforts. Go to https://www.uacrisisresponse.org/.

Phone hotline

If you have questions about dropping off supplies or how to help, call (313) 920-9642, (313) 920-8245 or (313) 920-8959.

mfeigan@detroitnews.com