Cheektowaga Ukrainian church does its part for Ukraine with diaper donation drive
The social room of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Cheektowaga gradually filled with diapers, wipes and children’s clothing on Thursday. That was the request from various groups helping Ukrainian refugees, reflecting the vast crowd of small children forced to flee their homeland due to the Russian invasion.
About half of the more than 2 million people who have fled the war in Ukraine are children, and there have even been cases of children having to make the journey alone. The U.N. refugee agency has called it the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn encouraged local police departments to donate. Two-packed Town of Tonawanda police cars answered the call.
“They wanted diapers, sizes one through six, baby formula, baby food but pouches only … baby wipes, and then lastly, protein bars,” said Town of Tonawanda Police Captain Joseph Milosich of the supplies his department brought, adding that there were also clothing donations from the Ken-Ton Closet. “I think we've got a great deal of support and so we got a lot of those five items.”
Parish President Victor Zahybaj said the donated goods will be put on pallets and shipped out to New Jersey by a local trucker. There, they will be put on air freighters to Poland and then driven into Ukraine for distribution.
Zahybaj came here as an infant from refugee camps in Germany because they couldn't go back to Ukraine and people in the parish still have family there.
“Our priest, his brother, his family, his mother are still over there. There's a number of other parishioners that have family still over there,” he said. “My family is long gone. Most of them were killed during the war or afterwards. Some of them were sent to Siberia and perished over there.”
The chatter of Ukrainian language could be heard across the room, reminding people there are recent immigrants in this community, along with those who came in the late '40s and early ’50s.