Local relief efforts for Ukraine have received a massive boost, thanks to a $1 million grant from #StartSmall.
Sunflower of Peace, a Boston-based nonprofit that ships medical supplies to Ukraine, received the Philanthropic Initiative grant from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
“It was amazing,” said Katya Malakhova, who started Sunflower of Peace in 2015, after Russia invaded and then annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. “We are a very small organization and we are grateful to have been chosen as recipients of the generous grant from #StartSmall. Grants like this are essential to our work to help Ukrainians who are fighting and suffering on the lines of front of this war.
This grant, and the approximately additional $2 million Sunflower of Peace has raised toward its $5 million goal, will enable the volunteer-based nonprofit organization to increase the number of expeditions to areas of Ukraine who urgently need medical help and will help Ukrainian doctors. provide emergency aid to help save the lives of Ukrainian soldiers, she said on Saturday.
The group sends shipments to Poland and Romania, where they have contacts that will get them into Ukraine.
Sunflower of Peace works with a global network of established organizations, institutions and individual volunteers committed to helping Ukraine at this critical time.
“We are proud to have trusted contacts on the ground in Ukraine,” said Malakhova, a 33-year-old realtor who lives in Newton.
Sunflower of Peace has a team of about 300 volunteers, who are “super dedicated,” like a nurse who came to volunteer for 6 hours after finishing her shift at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, she said. declared. Another woman donated $50,000 from Ukrainian bracelets she sells.
“It’s amazing that the Boston community has been so supportive,” Malakhova said. “I’m just grateful. “We appreciate everyone coming together.”
As the number of their shipments grew, Mayor Michelle Wu helped find them a warehouse in West Roxbury to work in, she said.
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin began bombing civilian targets on February 24, Malakhova has been worried about her family, all of whom are in Ukraine.
“They’re alive,” is the best she can say. “None of them are in Mariupol,” where a 23-day-old infant was among the dead, she said. “It’s devastating. We pray. We are petrified. Everyone is afraid of what can happen.
Another local group that helps is Ukraine Forward, except it focuses on both medical supplies for hospitals and military supplies for Ukrainian fighters.
They are sending tactical gear like ballistic goggles and vests, night-vision goggles, walkie-talkies and more, said Iurii Kryvanych, a volunteer with the group.
So far they have already shipped around 2,000 pounds of supplies and another 1,800 will leave next week, he said.
“It looks like my country will fight until the last drop of blood, otherwise we will win with the help of other countries,” he said.
They are looking for people traveling to Eastern Europe as the fastest way to get supplies to Ukraine, Kryvanych said.
On Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, the group meets in the parish house of Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Church in Jamaica Plain and plans, sorts and packs supplies.
“If you had told me a year ago that I would be discussing the best blood clotting drug, I would have told you you were crazy,” Kryvanych said. “But Putin’s plan is to kill and starve Ukrainians and make their lives so unbearable that they surrender.”
Some retired police officers donated their equipment, and John Murphy, 84, of Buzzard’s Bay, showed up at church one day with a shipment of camouflage uniforms donated by a friend, John Fine.
“I felt the need to do something,” Murphy said. “I felt what (Ukrainians) are going through is beyond tragedy, beyond cruelty that they need to be helped.”