Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been devastating. Over the past three months, more than 12 million Ukrainians have become displaced. Tens of thousands of civilians have died, and roughly 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers have perished. Meanwhile, nearly 30,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, and thousands of Russian armored vehicles, tanks, and aircraft have been destroyed. Despite the death and destruction caused by the war, Russia’s military incursion continues without an end.
As Ukraine defends itself from the invasion, the international community has provided significant aid. The assistance sent by Western governments has spanned from financial and humanitarian support to medical supplies and military equipment.
Several Ukrainian diaspora communities around the world have also mobilized to send aid to Ukraine. They have provided financial, humanitarian, and medical assistance to Ukraine. In some cases, they have even sent nonlethal military aid. The Ukrainian-Americans are one of the diaspora communities involved in these efforts.
How have Ukrainian-Americans provided assistance to their ancestral homeland? How can other American communities help Ukraine during its time of need?
When the second Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, several Ukrainian-American communities across the United States organized peaceful protests. These demonstrations helped promote awareness about Russia’s unprovoked war, and they informed participants how they can send aid to Ukraine.
Various initiatives evolved out of these protests. For example, Ukrainian-American youth scouting organizations have been very active. The Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization’s US chapter and the Ukrainian Youth Union’s American chapter have raised nearly $1 million in humanitarian assistance. They launched a website to connect Ukrainian hospitals with US aid organizations. Ukrainian-American scouts have also gathered weekly to construct pocket first aid kits for Ukrainian civilians. During these med kit construction sessions, the scouts, counselors, and their families packed small, quart-sized plastic bags with surgical dressing, vinyl gloves, band-aids, gauze pads, alcohol wipes, antibiotic ointments, and bandage rolls. Other local American community groups, such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA, have participated in these kit efforts.
The pocket first aid kits are then packaged into large boxes and transported to Meest-American, Inc. Once the packages arrived to Meest, the materials are shipped to western Ukraine. The pocket first aid kits are then collected by scouts in western Ukraine and distributed across the country. Plast USA has set a goal to create 500,000 pocket first aid kits to Ukraine, and Plast USA’s branches are actively involved in these efforts. To date, they have made over 60,000.
For example, one internationally-recognized group is Razom for Ukraine. Razom is a non-profit, human rights organization that works to promote freedom and democracy in Ukraine. Its involvement has ranged from coronavirus assistance and medical aid to improving Ukraine’s healthcare system and providing veteran assistance.
When the Russo-Ukrainian war began, Razom organized an emergency response initiative to provide help and support in the “face of an extreme or unforeseen situation in Ukraine.” To date, Razom has raised over $50 million. Over 120,000 donors have donated to this effort. The funds raised have been used to purchase and deliver “tactical medicine items, hospital supplies, and tech enabled emergency response supplies.”
Razom has fulfilled 282 aid requests submitted by Ukrainian territorial defense units, hospitals, and field hospitals. This organization also procured and delivered 100 wound vac machines and 23 pickup trucks for paramedic use. Finally, Razom has delivered thousands of walkie-talkies, hundreds of civilian drones, 250 satellite phones, and hundreds of tablets to Ukraine.
Other organizations that have helped Ukraine include:
- The Ukrainian American Medical Association of North America (UMANA);
- United Help Ukraine;
- the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA);
- the US-Ukraine Foundation;
- the Ukrainian Federal Credit Union (UFCU);
- the Ukrainian Catholic University Foundation;
- and the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
Members of UMANA have translated Ukrainian medical records into English so that Ukrainian citizens can be treated in Western hospitals. UMANA also purchased ambulances and portable ultrasounds so that they can be used in Ukraine.
UCCA partnered with various non-governmental organizations to provide first aid kits. It has raised nearly $700,000 in humanitarian aid. The US-Ukraine Foundation has been actively working to collect funds for oxygen concentrator kits.
Meanwhile, the Shevchenko Scientific Society in the US established a fundraising initiative to assist Ukrainian scholars, writers, and artists affected by Russia’s war. The money raised will support residential and non-residential fellowships for these individuals. To highlight this initiative, the Society held an all-day marathon webinar where more than 30 scholars and activists shared their expertise on the war.
The Ukrainian American Coordinating Council (UACC) is “procuring and shipping helmets and body armor to Ukraine.” This organization obtained a “special license for regulated, military-grade items” which allows it to ship this equipment to Ukraine. Aside from purchasing these helmets and vests, UACC has partnered with Plast to collect protective equipment donated by federal, state, and local police departments. UACC is working with Meest to ship this equipment to Ukraine.
In several major cities across the United States, the Ukrainian diaspora has donated clothing and basic goods to Ukrainians that travel to America. Several families have offered to host refugees that come to the US Others have helped find shelter for these displaced Ukrainians. These diaspora communities have collected furniture and other household necessities so that these refugees can furnish their new living areas.
Numerous Ukrainian-Americans have also launched their own initiatives to help Ukraine.
Several individuals have called and written to their senators and representatives requesting that Congress provide financial, humanitarian, medical, and defense aid to Ukraine. Ukrainian-Americans have also called the White House. This outreach has been effective as Congress approved an emergency package in March 2022 that included $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine. The Biden administration also recently asked Congress for new $33 billion Ukraine aid package. The House then passed a “$40 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine.” The package was then approved by the Senate.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian-Americans who work at hospitals and clinics have collaborated with their coworkers to collect medical supplies and equipment that can be sent to Ukraine. Others have partnered with Razom by organizing unique fundraisers, such as social gatherings and bike riding sessions.
Some diaspora members even released a music album that featured 41 Ukrainian songs. The proceeds for these albums were sent directly to Razom. Finally, during the recent Easter holiday, several Ukrainian-Americans and other community members prepared traditional Easter baskets for refugees while others decorated Ukrainian Easter eggs (pysanky). The funds raised during the “Pysanky for Peace” workshop were used for humanitarian aid.
Overall, the Ukrainian-American diaspora, like many communities around the world, has been actively working to provide aid to Ukraine. The organizations and initiatives mentioned above are only a few of the thousands of initiatives that have taken place to help Ukraine. Through these efforts, Ukrainian-Americans have raised tens of millions of dollars and have shipped various forms of humanitarian and medical equipment to Ukraine.
Simply put, this community is determined to help make a difference. Those wishing to participate in these Ukrainian aid efforts can contact the organizations above by accessing their respective websites.
Finally, thousands of American (and international) parishes, schools, colleges, universities, and organizations without any affiliation to Ukraine have gathered to help. Over the past three months, they have hosted numerous aid drives, and provided large monetary donations to Ukrainian causes. Their solidarity and support are very welcomed by the Ukrainian community.
“We are very grateful and appreciative of the diaspora’s efforts, as well as the work that has been done by the international community to aid Ukraine,” a spokesperson said from the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, DC. “Every contribution makes a difference.”