Local effort underway to send backpacks to Ukraine | Daily news alerts

WEST — Those who want to join a local effort to send backpacks full of donated school supplies to children in Ukraine still have a few weeks to grab a bag, fill it and drop it off.

The effort is led by friends of Yana Ferreira, a Ukrainian who lives in Pawcatuck with her husband, Tony, and their daughter. Many of the same friends helped organize a previous drive for a wide range of supplies. That effort culminated in early April, when volunteers from Sterling Moving & Storage in Bozrah, Connecticut brought 11,000 pounds of food, clothing, medical supplies and other items to New York, where a relief organization stood ready to oversee the transport of the items to Ukraine.

Backpacks can be picked up at JCPenny Salon and Pure Eco Spa & Boutique, both on Franklin Street in Westerly. Filled backpacks must be dropped off at the same locations by June 20. Yana Ferreira works at the JCPenny salon.

The backpacks will be shipped from New York to Ukraine or Poland, where many Ukrainian families have fled for safety trying to avoid the Russian siege of their homeland.

“It will depend on where the volunteers can go,” said Heather Young, a North Stonington resident who helps organize the backpacking project. Young and Rose Maloney, the owner of Pure Eco Spa & Boutique, were instrumental in the previous collection effort.

Young pointed out that only backpacks full of school supplies can be accepted for the current effort. Food and other items cannot be accepted as volunteers are not equipped to handle the logistics associated with large amounts of non-school supplies.

Backpacks available for pickup come with a list of suggested items to fill them with, Young said. The list focuses on a range of grade levels. Only new items will be accepted in backpacks.

Those filling backpacks are encouraged to write a note or greeting card to the child who will receive the backpack. Donors can purchase their own backpacks if they wish or pick one up from one of the two locations where the backpacks were purchased using donated funds.

Children in Ukraine have been out of school since late February due to the Russian attack.

“I know that when you hear about the war for so long every day, we start to get used to it and it’s the worst thing that can happen. Because the war continues and the people of Ukraine suffer a lot. Let’s repeat the success of our first humanitarian campaign,” Ferreira said in a recent Facebook post.

Local schoolchildren in Pawcatuck, including at West Vine School where the Ferreiras’ daughter goes, and Stonington are also helping, according to Young.

Ferreira’s mother, Valentina, 73, remains in Ukraine, as does her sister, Vita.


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