Column: Local kids’ charity gives cash to Ukrainian refugees

When Asia Moore volunteered for a Carlsbad-based charity eight years ago, she had no idea she would be piloting the organization to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland today.

Moore is the director of the Children for Peace program, a global network of school-based caregivers who have grown up in the base and are committed to being kind and helpful to others.

They perform small miracles for mothers and their children who were displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24. So far, they have channeled $ 20,750 directly to 830 refugees in three small towns in southwestern Poland and are locating more villages to help.

Moore grew up in Poland and many of her friends and family still live there.

He was in shock when the war broke out. “I am just happy to be free. “I felt it was so close to my home geographically and culturally.”

TV news of the mourning sirens echoed memories of war stories shared by her Polish grandparents. “I could not sleep and I was terrified,” Moore said.

The invasion was daily for her through stories told by her friends and family about the hordes of refugees flooding Poland who needed support.

“I have many friends who took refuge,” he says. Her brother Maciek Zak, 44, runs a Polish transport company. Since February 24, he has made repeated trips to the Ukrainian border to pick up refugees and take them to shelters in his home country.

Many of the 2.75 million Ukrainians who have fled to Poland have moved to other destinations. But many remain, overwhelmingly small villages that do not have the resources to support them.

“At Kids for Peace, we always want to have a direct impact,” said Jill McManigal, who founded the organization in 2008 and remains at the helm. With Moore’s family connections in Poland, he realized that they could get help directly into the hands of those most in need.

“The mothers had to leave their homes so quickly that they showed up with a bag of items and no cash,” she explains. Even if they had Ukrainian money, they had little value in Poland.

“We decided that cash would be the best thing to do directly for families, as it empowers them and gives them a sense of dignity and support,” McMannigal added. In addition, they often had to pay for personal items such as medical care and prescription drugs.

Kids for Peace approached 52 domestic and 43 foreign chapters and 30,000 school programs asking for love and hope video messages – and donations – with 100 percent of tax-deductible gifts going to refugees.

The initial target of $ 20,000 has already been exceeded by approximately $ 15,000. Many of the contributions come from schools that have donated to creative fundraisers, such as donating the privilege of wearing jeans to school or hats to class.

Students at the Lowell Elementary in Bellingham, Washington, staged a “Change 4 Kids” coin drive, in which students raised more than $ 1,200 for refugees by emptying their piggy banks, conducting a bake sale and selling lemonade.

“My second grader raised this money by doing kind deeds all week to show their support and love for the people of Ukraine,” a teacher posted on the fundraising website.

Foothill Ranch Elementary School in Orange County contributed nearly $ 4,000.

A call to children for 5-second video greetings led to 97 heartfelt messages from 23 states and four countries gathered in a single moving video of love and hope to share with refugee families.

Forty-four schools in Ukraine had previously participated in the Kids for Peace global Great Kindness Challenge. Students in a class in Ukraine had become pen friends with US students, so Kids for Peace sent the video to the teacher asking for suggestions on how the organization could help.

In response, she said she cried when she saw the video and said none of her classmates were killed or injured and most had left the country. She had moved with her daughter to Germany, but still taught online classes with her scattered students.

“I will send them this video,” he wrote. “I’m sure they will be (as) excited as I am.”

Kids for Peace focuses on villages and towns with small populations that are most affected and do not have the organized support of Poland’s largest cities.

Ukrainian refugees living in the Polish city of Porabka Village see the Kids for Peace love messages being sent to them.

(Courtesy of Kids for Peace)

The first round of gifts – $ 25 for each refugee – was distributed in Kozy, Poland, where San Diego residents zoomed in on a city meeting with 280 refugees. They were observed watching the children’s video “Love for Ukraine”, which included some messages from students in the Ukrainian language.

“I was so moved when we zoomed in, seeing the sea with the kids’ faces,” says McManigal. “Many of the mothers had tears running down their cheeks. “Seeing them makes it seem so real, knowing that every person’s life has changed forever.”

Moore says she was shocked at how many young children there were. “It was heartbreaking for me.”

The second and third rounds of gifts were distributed to 350 refugees in the village of Porabka, which has a population of only 3,800, and to 200 refugees in Lipnik, Bielsko-Biala, Moore’s hometown, with less than 6,000 inhabitants.

Moore says her brother oversees the distribution of cash and her father also helps with the project.

“We will continue to raise funds as needed,” McMannigal promised. They are also willing to serve in other ways when the need arises. “We always respond with what we can and as we can.”

A resident of the area reacts after a Russian attack on a residential area in Kharkov, in northeastern Ukraine.

A Ukrainian man reacts to an attack in residential Kharkov on April 19, the day Russia announced the resumption of the attack in the region.

(Tayler Hicks / The New York Times)

Another local fundraising effort

Several days ago, I wrote a column after speaking with Dimitry Nessonov, a resident of the heavily bombed city of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine. He is a computer systems manager who has worked virtually with a Chula Vista t-shirt printing company for over a decade.

As soon as the war broke out, the owner of the company, Ryan Garcia, began working with his Ukrainian friend to launch a fundraising campaign by selling anti-war T-shirts and donating net income to the Ukrainian army.

Due to war-related holidays and power outages in Ukraine, Nessonov completed the design of the site. However, it sent me a message this week that it is now up and running. For those interested in learning more about their work or buying one of Nessanov T-shirt designs, the website is: www.g3print.net

Meanwhile, the result of the intrusion – and the reason for the website’s delay – brought Nesonov’s message home to me on April 18 from his home outside Kharkov.

“My family and I experienced bombings in my neighborhood and we were hiding. “Fortunately, we were not hit, but there were many injured in my neighborhood.” Despite the danger, they remain in Ukraine.

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