As the war in Ukraine continues, the international community is banding together to help provide aid for the people of Ukraine. At Sacred Heart University, The College of Health Professions and Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning partnered together to lead the collection efforts.
“A number of faculty and myself were really interested in doing something for Ukraine, and we as the College of Health Professions tend to be very much engaged in community outreach,” said Maura Iversen, Dean of the College of Health Professions. “I thought it would be a good idea to coordinate efforts, and to me it seemed to me that Volunteer Programs would be a natural synergy to help.”
In order to connect with the local Ukrainian community, Iversen formed a relationship with Ulyana Bolgachenko, a Ukrainian who works at an immigration office.
“Ulyana had connections with Ukraine and had the ability to ship things abroad through her office,” said Iversen. “We thought about collecting things that are most urgent.”
Items being collected include: hygiene products, diapers and baby wipes, baby formula, socks, underwear, power banks, Tylenol, and Ibuprofen.
According to Annie Wendel, Director of the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning, Ukraine’s Ministry of Health has specifically requested first aid and toiletry items.
Sacred Heart is not the only organization collecting items for Ukraine in the area. The Fairfield Police Department has also announced on Facebook a joint effort with other departments in Fairfield County to ship over 200 ballistic vests and protective helmets to Ukraine.
Additionally, The Ukrainian American Club of Southport held a collection drive looking for gently used and new clothing items for Ukrainians displaced by the war.
“There’s a lot of destruction in the area and as health care professionals we’re focusing on the health aspect of it. We know that unfortunately, a lot of young children have been impacted as well, so we’re trying to boost the morale and show that people across the globe are sympathetic to their situation,” said Iversen.
The collection efforts have brought people together, and for Iversen this was a way to connect in-person with people outside of her college.
“When we created the flyer, a woman from the College of Business reached out, and now I’m actually hosting a dinner for students and faculty from Ukraine at my house next week,” she said.
With all of the options to help Ukrainian people, students at Sacred Heart are excited to be doing something that could help even a little.
“I think it’s great that we as a university are doing something to help the people of Ukraine,” said sophomore Stephanie Encarnation.
“This is a great cause, I was very excited to hear that we put together a drive for the people of Ukraine,” said sophomore Chris DiGangi. “I have a family heritage in Ukraine, so I’m excited for the opportunity to help.”
One shipment is already on its way to Ukraine, and Iversen believes that students should feel a sense of accomplishment.
“I’m really proud about how committed our students are to social justice in our program,” said Iversen. “We have thousands of volunteer hours every year, and our group is just very active. I know it gives them a sense that they can do something in a very difficult time.”
Donations will be collected on an ongoing basis in the Center for Health Care Education room N106 and on Main Campus HC109.
“Through this donation collection, the SHU community has stepped up in solidarity with the Ukrainian community, a heartening reminder of our common humanity,” said Wendel. “We’ll continue to support the brave people of Ukraine and reaffirm our commitment to fundamental rights and freedoms around the world.”