BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Toledo Helps Ukraine is still working hard to secure a brighter future for displaced and besieged Ukrainians nearly a year after Russia’s invasion.
“Toledo Helps Ukraine has existed for almost a year now. It’s hard to believe we’ve gone through 11.5 months of hard work,” said Toledo Helps Ukraine co-founder Alona Matchenko. “We set up three distinct goals: to raise awareness and funds, to help with settlement of individuals and to rebuild Ukraine.”
The first goal, raising awareness and funds, resulted in the shipment of thousands of pounds of supplies to many of those in need in Ukraine, Matchenko said.
The organization got a boost in addressing that goal when Matchenko was approached by staff members of ProMedica.
“ProMedica has experience and a history of supporting local, and one of their priorities is to help small nonprofits to utilize the big company’s resources in order to achieve their needs, and that’s what they did with us,” Matchenko said.
Several ProMedica staff members, along with Toledo Helps Ukraine volunteers, have been able to gather and prepare another shipment of supplies to Ukraine, slated for February.
“They have a team of young professionals from the Impact and Inspire Foundation to join our effort,” Matchenko said. “Instead of our team of amateurs overwhelming ourselves, we now have a whole team of professionals to help us prepare another shipment.”
With the help of the ProMedica Foundation, there are three donation drop-off locations: Barr’s Public House at 3355 Briarfield Blvd. in Maumee, Fusion Bistro at 3136 Markway Rd. in Toledo and the ProMedica Downtown Steam Plant Headquarters at 100 Madison Ave. in Toledo.
Requested donations include nonperishable food and water, new winter clothing, power sources, cold-weather items, medical supplies and monetary donations. Donations will be accepted until Tuesday, February 7.
There is also a volunteering opportunity for those interested to help pack on Tuesday, January 31 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Bell Building at 709 Madison Ave., Ste. 100 in Toledo.
For more information on how to help Toledo Helps Ukraine with volunteer opportunities and collecting donations, Matchenko recommends visiting Toledo Helps Ukraine on Facebook.
Collecting donations and raising awareness is just step one, though.
“With the second goal, it pulled from the first. Because we raised awareness, we were able to engage many people in the community and show them how to participate in this lifesaving relocation,” Matchenko said.
By speaking with groups in the community, Toledo Helps Ukraine has been able to secure sponsorship of 30 individuals to come to the United States, Matchenko said. Toledo Helps Ukraine is still looking for more sponsors, though, she added.
“We want to help people learn more about lifesaving relocation and how they can save Ukrainian lives,” Matchenko said.
On the Toledo Helps Ukraine website, 4ua.org, the organization outlines the steps needed to become a sponsor, Matchenko explained. The website lists the paperwork needed and the responsibilities of sponsors and hosts.
As for the third goal, Toledo Helps Ukraine is still hoping to collect funds to help rebuild parts of Ukraine, Matchenko said.
“We are looking for sustainable, long-term donors,” she said. “They can help us make a difference.”
For updated information on volunteering, sponsorships and donations to help Toledo Helps Ukraine, the organization can be found on Facebook or at 4ua.org.