In March of 2022, shortly after the unjustified full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, Ukrainian Catholic University Foundation (UCU Foundation) created the Ukraine Emergency Fund. This dedicated fund supports humanitarian aid and emergency relief efforts at UCU.
Millions of Ukrainians, many of whom are women and children, have fled their homes and headed to Western Ukraine where the University is located. In response, UCU converted its Andrew and Christine Kozak Fitness Center and the dormitories Collegium I and II to welcome refugees. UCU also opened a Humanitarian Support Collection Center in its Sheptytsky Center as a receptacle for a wide range of medical aid supplies. Students, faculty, and staff at UCU are organizing these efforts and many more volunteer efforts.
We are proud to say we have made a difference in the lives of families and friends affected by the ongoing war with Russia. We are especially proud to be supported in these efforts by an extensive grassroots campaign of fundraisers from across the United States. When we may be tempted to feel isolated or despairing, the emotional and financial support of people halfway around the world has encouraged us to keep fighting and working.
It is with gratitude and humility that we share here a few stories of UCU Foundation supporters who used their creativity, resources, and personal networks to support Ukraine and UCU during this terrible time.
Suzanne Camarata, owner of The Gallery at Flat Rock in North Carolina, held a charitable art auction to benefit UCU Foundation. This beautiful painting, titled “Resolve,” was donated to the auction by the artist Veronika Hart. “My heart goes out to all the brave people of Ukraine who have endured unimaginable horror, but are standing strong against overwhelming odds,” said the artist. The auction raised $10,000 for the Ukraine Emergency Fund through the sale of the painting and generous donations by gallery patrons.
Anna Bondar and Daryna Serediuk, two Ukrainians who are studying abroad at the Fryeburg Academy, a boarding school in Maine, organized a lunchtime fundraiser. The young women, who are studying in America through the Ukraine Global Scholars program, sold homemade cookies and hand-made jewelry (earrings, buttons, bracelets, hair accessories, ribbons) that resemble Ukrainian symbols. They also organized a blue and yellow day, asking the entire school community to wear those colors in support of Ukraine. They raised over $7,000 for the UCU Foundation Ukraine Emergency Fund. Their efforts and brave personal stories were featured in the local paper, The Conway Daily Sun, and we are so grateful for their help.
Cheryl Newby Gallery in South Carolina and artist Cathryne Trachok have been selling beautiful prints to benefit UCU Foundation. The original painting, “Barbarians at the Gate,” was auctioned off at the gallery and went for $2000.
Olena Boyko and her sister Lieda Boyko raised more than $12,000 at a yard sale at Lieda’s home in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Boykos had planned the sale prior to the Russian invasion, but when they decided to donate the proceeds to UCU and other Ukrainian relief organizations the women were overwhelmed with assistance from their community. Friends, neighbors, and strangers brought carloads of items to add to the sale, and many people made large cash donations. The Boykos are familiar with the devastation of war; their family fled Ukraine in 1944, when Soviet troops were crossing the border. You can read their inspiring story in their local paper, Southside Sentinel.
Bozhena Kulchyckyj, a student from Boston College, set up an online crowdfunding campaign that reached 297 donors. Her efforts raised an astonishing $20,000! UCU and other relief organizations will be the beneficiaries of these donations.
Father Michael Perry, Pastor Emeritus of Our Lady of Refuge Parish in Brooklyn, organized a Pysanka workshop to benefit the UCU Foundation. Participants learned about the traditional Ukrainian art of Pysanka – decorating Easter eggs using a batik method – and proceeds went to the Ukraine Emergency Fund at UCU. This joyous Easter tradition, a symbol of hope, was a moving way to rally around the people of Ukraine.
The bold and creative ways these people have stepped in to support Ukraine and UCU is a powerful reminder that anyone can make a difference. No matter where you live, who you are, or what resources you possess, you have the ability to improve the world. We are so grateful for the courage and the optimism that our supporters have displayed. Not only have they come to the aid of Ukraine, they have reminded us all that in the darkest of times, help can be found – or given – anywhere.
You can join with these supporters by visiting UCUFoundation.org/donate and learn more about hosting your own fundraiser here.