While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues amid an international outcry, Massachusetts residents have stepped up to aid Eastern Europeans threatened by the war.
Over 1 million people have sought refuge, according to United Nations estimates. Thousands of others have endured cold temperatures without water or electricity. In the midst of the crisis, many worthy groups are pooling funds and food, including Razom for Ukraine and Greater Boston Ukrainian churches.
Here are some locals (and companies) who have taken the lead:
For days, donors stuffed Katya Malakhova’s Newton home with cardboard boxes and trash bags. The Newton resident was collecting medical supplies to send to the war-torn country — everything from bandages, gauze, tampons, soap, and latex gloves.
She shipped the donations out early Wednesday morning through a passage in Moldova.
“I’m touched, but the American public has been very generous when there’s a crisis in the world,” Malakhova told WBZ.
Malakhova has a long history of helping her home country. In 2015, she founded Sunflower of Peace, a nonprofit aimed at helping Ukrainians affected by violence, according to its Facebook page.
“As our organization grew bigger, we started providing help to orphans, internally displaced persons, and, recently, those most affected by COVID-19 in Ukraine,” the page reads. In addition, Sunflower of Peace has funded educational opportunities for Ukrainian genetic scientists.
WBZ reported that the group has recently raised more than $840,000.
This week, Yuliya Pokhylko partnered with over 70 volunteers to create Ukraine Forward (ukraineforward.org). The activist group is gathering donations of items compiled on an Amazon wishlist and a separate online list of less conventional supplies — think walkie-talkies, tourniquets, intubation tubes, and tactical vests.
Donors can ship the provisions to the Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Church in Jamaica Plain, where Ukraine Forward packages the boxes. The haul is then taken to New Jersey in personal or U-Haul trucks and shipped to Poland via a Ukrainian logistics company, Meest.
Ukraine Forward is also accepting monetary donations to pay for drones, vital defense tools that cost between $500 and $800 each, Pokhylko said.
To date, the group has raised at least $16,000 in money and supplies.
“The support is overwhelming,” Pokhylko said. “And I’m grateful to see a number of organizations helping. There’s no competition between us.”
Pokhylko, 31, immigrated from Ukraine in 2017, but her mother, grandfather, in-laws, and friends have remained in the country. She works for tech-training nonprofit Per Scholas. Previously, she ran programming and events at Cambridge’s Venture Café.
Tom Ryden, the executive director of MassRobotics, has partnered with a half-dozen startup accelerators and incubators in Greater Boston to aid Ukrainian startups. The concept is simple: If a company needs a home and help (and can make it to the United States), the organizations will provide them with free workspace and tools like motors, actuators, and software.
A number of local groups — including the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub, Mansfield-Bio Incubator, and North Shore InnoVentures — are involved, Ryden said. Together, they’re looking out for the little guys.
“Larger companies have resources out of the country that they can use and rely on,” Ryden said. “Startups don’t have that benefit.”
No Ukrainian companies have taken the team up on their offer so far — a reality Ryden is taking as good news.
“Hopefully, they get to stay at home and thrive,” he said. “We don’t want them to have to come here.”
There’s no greater gift than cash.
Seymon Dukach, a Massachusetts venture capitalist, flew to the Ukraine-Romania border last week to distribute money to hundreds of refugees, the Globe reported.
The idea formed when Dukach saw that many people who crossed the border were already being offered free housing, food, blankets, and transportation from other nonprofits.
“What we realized,” Dukach said in a phone interview from Romania, “was that what women and children really needed was some money.”
He and his wife, Natasha, ultimately distributed $7,000 to roughly 100 women within two days and are working on scaling up a relief program.
Now, Dukach has created a landing page (cashforrefugees.org) to collect donations for future cash payments.
The Harpoon Brewery — in Boston and Windsor, Vt. — is donating a dollar per pint sold to help support the Ukrainian people, according to an Instagram post.
“We stand with President Zelensky and the heroes fighting for their freedom in Ukraine,” the caption read. “#StandwithUkraine”
The Hadley, Mass., vodka importer is donating $1 for every bottle it sells in the month of March, according to its founder, Paul Kozub.
Later this week, Kozub will also travel to the V-One distillery located in Kamien, Poland — two hours from the Ukraine border — with $5,000 for refugee relief.
“My life was forever changed for the better when I made my first trip to Eastern Poland 17 years ago to start my craft vodka business,” Kozub said in a statement. “I feel compelled to do something to help.”
MyStryde, a running studio in the North End, is holding Ukraine-relief classes for $35.
All of the funds are donated to the Ukraine Crisis fund by GEM. The group aims to meet refugee families at the Polish border with an aid and relocation center, where they try to pay for flights and transportation to safe locations.
The company said in an e-mail that a member of its community grew up in Ukraine, inspiring the effort. “She moved to the US when she was 15,” MyStryde said. “She has family and friends still there. We are here to support.”
King’s Dining and Entertainment
On March 7, King’s Dining and Entertainment in Back Bay will be offering guests a special package of unlimited bowling, shoes, pizza, and fountain drinks for $50.
The proceeds will be donated to World Central Kitchen’s #ChefsforUkraine initiative. It provides hot meals for displaced Ukrainians at eight border crossings and for those who remain in the country.
Two other restaurants supported World Central Kitchen, too. Jaju Pierogi donated $1,000 and pledged 20 percent of its one-day sales in late February, Eater reported. And in Cambridge, La Saison Bakery hosted a sourdough bake sale Wednesday to support the effort.
Haley Henry, a wine bar downtown, sent its Wednesday proceeds from its weekly hot dog special to the Ukrainian Crisis Relief Fund by GlobalGiving.
“As Ukrainians continue to fight for their land, their freedoms, and their democracy, we can’t help but try to find a way to help in whatever way we can,” the bar posted.