PoliticsThe Putnam Examiner

Mother’s Day Weekend Drive for Ukrainian Refugees Slated in Putnam

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By Rick Pezzullo
(L-R:) Tom Lannon-IT/GIS, County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Sylwia Wojcik, Karolina Zaba, Sherriff Kevin McConville, Tracey Walsh-Tourism, and Chairman of the Legislature Neal Sullivan.

Putnam County officials are teaming up with members of the local Polish community to send food, supplies, medicine and monetary donations to help the millions of Ukrainian refugees who have taken shelter in Poland.

A Mother’s Day Weekend collection drive will be held Friday, May 6 through Sunday, May 8 at the Paladin Center on 39 Seminary Hill Road in Carmel. Volunteers and deputies from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department will help organize the supplies and pack them into shipping crates to be sent to a city in Poland near the Ukrainian border.

More than four million people have fled Ukraine since war broke out with Russia. In Poland, almost three million Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children, are relying on the help of Polish citizens and organizations supporting them.

“We can’t just sit back and watch a country be destroyed and its citizens displaced and not offer to help,” Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said. “Poland is doing its share. Putnam County residents want to help, too. Our collection drive is Mother’s Day Weekend, and there is no better time to think about and support all the mothers and children of Ukraine who have been driven from their homes.”

A website has been created that shows which supplies are needed, where to donate money and how to volunteer. The website is putnamcountycares.com/ukraineaid/. The list of items needed ranges from diapers, formula and baby needs, to sanitary supplies for women and snack items like juice boxes and energy bars for children. Also needed are shampoo, toothpaste and over-the-counter pain medicines.

Neal L. Sullivan, Chair of the Putnam County Legislature, represents parts of Mahopac that have a big Eastern European population. He called Sylwia Wojcik, a Mahopac resident and native of Poland, to see what the community needed.

“Using the county’s extensive networks and the megaphone of county government gives us an opportunity to do a lot of good,” Sullivan said. “We have the ability to connect the local group with donors and not-for-profits who have experience in fundraising and shipping. And we have the ability to publicize the supply drive and fundraiser. I know that Putnam residents will turn out for this event.”

A Putnam County Amazon page has also been set up for people to purchase medical supplies directly: https://www.amazon.com/registries/custom/1ED7SRUY8TKFR/guest-view.

“It’s so hard to watch from a distance,” Wojcik said. “Doing this makes me feel useful. The Polish people have opened their homes to the Ukrainians. They are housing refugees, feeding them, trying to get their children into schools.  It’s not for a week or two. It’s going to be for a very long time.”

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