UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — A Ukrainian dance group based in Chicago is partnering with a shipping company to collect medical supplies, food and clothing to send to refugees and soldiers in Ukraine.
The Hromovytsia Ukrainian Dance Ensemble of Chicago specializes in folk dances from regions across Ukraine. They regularly perform in Chicago and around the world, said dancer Nastia Lototska.
In the wake of last week’s Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ensemble is partnering with shipping company Meest-Karparty to send supplies to countries bordering Ukraine. The materials will then be distributed to regions across the country.
The collection is looking for a wide range of medical supplies, like gauze and other first aid items. Lototska said they’re asking local hospitals to donate some of the more technical equipment.
The collection is also taking non-perishable foods, warm clothing and sleeping bags, among other materials.
“This drive was just honestly created out of the blue. People just started to order tactical gear and non-perishable foods. Medical supplies are extremely, extremely needed, especially on the frontlines, extremely needed in our hospitals, especially in places like Kharkiv and Kyiv, where the hospitals are particularly being targeted and bombed,” Lototska said.
Donations will be accepted 5:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays at the Ukrainian Cultural Center, 2247 W. Chicago Ave.
The group will also be accepting monetary donations to buy helmets, armored vests and other military gear for Ukrainian soldiers.
The Ukrainian Cultural Center will serve as a second drop off point for supplies. Meest-Karpaty’s Chicago storefront, 6725 W. Belmont Ave, is currently overwhelmed with donations, Lototska said.
For Lototska, the collection is her own way to support her family in Ukraine without being in the country. She was born in Ukraine and immigrated to the United States when she was four years old.
In 2015, Lototska said her uncle died while fighting against the Russians in Eastern Ukraine, shortly after Russia annexed Crimea. Her cousins are currently fighting for the Ukrainian Army after being drafted this week.
“The last time I was in Ukraine was to bury my uncle, who was the most important person to me. I don’t want to go to Ukraine again to God forbid bury another family member,” she said. “But we cannot focus on that right now. Because they need our help. And we can’t just sit here, glued to the news, which we still are, but we have to be productive because nobody else is helping them so we have to.”
Lototska said right after the Russian invasion last week, she tried to her get out of the country, but they refused.
“All of them said absolutely not. ‘We’re going to stay to fight, because if we leave now and then we’re able to come back, we will feel like traitors, so nobody’s leaving.’ They’re not scared. Honestly, we here are more scared and worried than they are over there. Their morale is unbelievable,” Lototska said.
The drive will accept donations indefinitely, Lototska said
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