Posted on: March 11, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Marcus Collins

By Nick Stulga, News Editor

As humanitarian needs increase exponentially for the millions of Ukrainians displaced by war with Russia, the Palos Hills community–including Moraine Valley–is stepping up to help in a big way.

People from the area surrounding the Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Palos Hills rallied together to bring in an astounding amount of donations, with the first shipment alone weighing more than 2,500 pounds. Moraine Valley took part through the International Student Ambassadors, who coordinated donations from students, faculty and staff and transported them to the church prior to spring break. 

“We had book bags, sleeping bags, first aid kits, diapers, toothpaste, toothbrushes, medicine, water bottles, shampoo, soap, flashlights, many necessary items donated,” said Nereida Encina, club advisor for the International Student Ambassadors.

Photo by Marcus Collins
A banner in front of the Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Palos Hills shows support for Ukraine.

Usniie Velulaieva, a student from Ukraine and member of the Student Ambassadors, helped initiate the effort. Vice President of Student Development Normah Salleh-Barone later sent information about the church to Encina’s supervisor, Robert Morley. From there, the Ambassadors decided to collect the needed items and drop them off at the church through the International Student Affairs office.

Five cars were needed to transport all the items donated by Moraine Valley. Encina said when she was helping with the delivery, she saw many other cars pulling into the church “with trunks full of items.” 

“The first shipment was over 2,856 pounds,” said church pastor Vasyl Sendeha. “The next shipment will be triple that weight.” 

According to Sendeha, at some point, the person in charge of shipping and delivery was so overwhelmed that he had to call it a day. He wasn’t the only one left amazed. 

“We are just overwhelmed by the support from the community,” said Sendeha, who grew up in Olesko, Ukraine. 

The items were first brought into the church, then sorted, and finally brought to the Precision Circuits warehouse in Downers Grove to be shipped out. At that point, the items were stocked into a truck and ready for their trip to O’Hare airport.

Photo by Nick Stulga
Items are brought into the church to be sorted.

The donations could not be flown straight to Ukraine, however.

“No, not to Ukraine, Ukraine’s airports are bombed,” said Sendeha. The shipments are instead flown to Poland and then shipped across the border to neighboring Ukraine.

What has been done is just the beginning for the organization. All parties, including representatives of Moraine Valley, are actively planning additional fundraisers in support of Ukraine for sometime at the end of March.

“They are thinking about having different things each day,” said Encina, describing a possible layout for the new fundraiser. “Maybe a bake sale one day or a soccer or basketball competition where you would come and pay to play.”