Amid war’s uncertainty, Cincinnati helps Ukraine prep for winter

Two organizations in Cincinnati are stepping up to help Ukraine as temperatures drop in the war-torn nation.

Cincy4Ukraine is mailing blankets, mittens, coats, and medical supplies to be used in various locations inside Ukraine.

The Cincinnati Kharkiv Sister City Partnership aims to raise $100,000 by Nov. 15. This will help the Kharkiv Red Cross deal with a homeless population in the city of Kharkiv, located in northeastern Ukraine, and in the newly liberated areas in the wider Kharkiv region. Kharkiv is 24 miles from the Russian border.

A child in Ukraine receives a blanket sent by Cincy4Ukraine. “Things have changed in Kharkiv with a military success of the Ukrainian army,” says Sister City president Robert Herring. Territories east, northeast, and southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, have been liberated. “But the challenge with the liberated territories is that the Russian army retreated and left. Many of the buildings -  the homes, the farms - were destroyed in the fighting and then the subsequent retreat, and many personal items of the Ukrainian folks were taken for clothing.”

The Sister City wants to send money so Kharkiv residents can buy winter clothing: Gloves, hats, socks, shoes, pants, and jackets. It would be a shot in the arm to Ukraine’s textile industry. The Cincinnati group will also purchase a $30,000 van to enable the Red Cross to evacuate people whose homes and farms have been destroyed.

In weekly Zoom meetings with the Kharkiv Red Cross, Sister City members have heard about tentative plans to resettle people into farming cooperatives that would give them housing and barns, plus a chance to raise livestock so they’ll have jobs and a food source.

Hardship and uncertainty remain in the Kharkiv region, Herring says. Although Russian troops retreated south, missile strikes resumed in recent weeks in Kharkiv, which had already lost 30% of its power. Rolling blackouts are likely.

Donations may be sent to the group’s PayPal account or by credit card at this link.

The Kharkiv Red Cross helps a wounded man in the Kharkiv area.Cincy4Ukraine formed in the hours after Russia began bombing Ukraine on Feb. 24. Its core members were born in Ukraine and now reside in Cincinnati. They started with rallies in downtown Cincinnati on Feb. 25.

Evgenia “Jane” Nemirovska DeSantos, a native of Ukraine, is surprised but heartened that Ukraine has stood up to the Russian military. “We’re standing strong,” she says.

Her group’s first goal is to help hospitals, first responders, and civilians by shipping materials that are not available on broken supply chains. They’ve also helped convert a monastery into a shelter for elderly people who were abandoned because of the war.

Cincy4Ukraine has held several fundraisers including Pierogis for Peace to pay for mailing costs, which run into the tens of thousands of dollars. They were pleased that Ukraine was featured in a Blink Cincinnati mural.

A shipment weighing 3.4 tons recently left Cincinnati, sending 226 boxes of winter socks, sweaters, slippers, and coats to be distributed to nursing homes and orphanages. Uniforms, socks, and warmers will go to first responders.

Donations can be taken to Fifth Third Bank or deposited online via PayPal. Volunteer opportunities can be found on the group’s Facebook page.
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Nancy Daly is a veteran Kentucky and Cincinnati journalist. An "Army brat" who found a home in Kentucky, she is a University of Kentucky graduate. Her hobbies include reading, photography, watching streaming TV, including "Succession" and "Andor," and playing Alphabet Game on Zoom with five siblings across the globe.