November 27, 2015

Giving thanks and giving

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Two years ago, in mid-December 2013, our editorial encouraged readers to remember the courage of the people of Ukraine who were on the barricades of the Euro-Maidan. At that time, what was most needed was immediate humanitarian aid – medications, food, clothing, blankets, thermoses, hygienic necessities, etc. – for the hundreds of thousands of cold and hungry Ukrainians who had taken to the streets and squares of Kyiv, Lviv and many other cities beginning in November to protest the Yanukovych regime’s decision to suspend Ukraine’s Euro-integration.

In 2014, our Christmastime editorial noted that Ukraine was in a war for its continued existence and that Ukraine’s defenders – its soldiers and members of volunteer battalions – desperately needed our assistance. We cited countless fund-raising initiatives in our local communities geared toward soliciting monetary donations and/or supplies for these brave men and women.

Now, as we write these words, Thanksgiving is upon us and the Christmas season is right around the corner. Thus, we move from giving thanks for all we have to giving to others. And once again we are urging our readers to help.

Two years after the beginning of what evolved into the Revolution of Dignity, the needs in Ukraine are great. In fact, Ukraine’s religious leaders on November 9 sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama pleading for assistance: “We, the undersigned of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, and representing Ukraine’s diverse religious community appeal to you on behalf of our people to help address the humanitarian catastrophe gripping our country. The needs are enormous, ranging from medical supplies to everyday items such as food, water and clothing.” Over 5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, they explained. There are nearly 1.4 million internally displaced persons, 17,000 have been injured and 8,000 have been killed due to the war in Ukraine’s east. We pray that our president hears this plea.

At the same time, we know there is something that each of us can do. There are a number of projects aimed at helping the people of Ukraine that are run by trusted Ukrainian community organizations.

The Ukrainian National Women’s League of America has a new program whereby its branches or members can help a fallen soldier’s family. The UNWLA suggests “adopting” a soldier’s family and providing them with financial support, as well as moral support via letters, e-mails, phone calls. The organization has calculated the cost at $1,200 per year (or $300 per quarter), and it wants supporters to sign on for at least three years. For information, contact UNWLA National Board Social Welfare Chair Lida Bilous at Lidia@bilous.net or 941-587-8845.

The United Ukrainian American Relief Committee has its Adopt a Wounded Ukrainian Soldier program. The suggested donation of $25 per month (or a one-time annual donation of $300) helps pay for medical equipment, medicine, clothing, food and other necessities. Thus far, according to its website (www.uuarc.org), more than 340 soldiers have been sponsored. For more information, contact Nila Pawluk of the UUARC Board of Directors at 215-699-6068. Similarly, the UUARC runs a project called Orphans of Maidan and ATO/Family-to-Family. For information e-mail UUARC@uuarc.org.

The Ukrainian National Foundation, the charitable arm of the Ukrainian National Association, is continuing its support of a very worthwhile project of the Ukraine-based charity called the International Alliance for Fraternal Assistance (IAFA): the establishment of a modern prosthetics and rehabilitation center to help Ukraine’s wounded warriors. As readers may recall, the fund for this rehab center is dedicated to the memory of Markian Paslawsky (known to his comrades in arms as “Franko”), a Ukrainian American graduate of West Point who was killed in action during the battle for Ilovaisk. For information, readers may call the UNA at 973-292-9800.

Dear Readers: These are but three examples of organizations doing great things to help the people of Ukraine, and there are many others. Please consider these important endeavors and give generously!