BAY VILLAGE, Ohio — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is asking congressional leaders for aid as the devastation in the besieged country continues.
While both sides say peace talks have provided hope for a compromise, locals in Northeast Ohio are chipping in with the relief efforts.
Maria Swerchowsky is a first-generation Ukrainian American who lives in Bay Village with her husband and two daughters. Her father immigrated to the United States with his parents for a better life.
“He immigrated from Ukraine with his parents when he was 11-years-old,” Swerchowsky said. “He was born in Kiev and there was a war similar to what's going on today.”
Swerchowsky still has family in Kiev who she keeps in touch with, but when she saw the devastation being caused by the Russian attacks on Ukraine, she wanted to do something to help.
"We were heartbroken for the people of Ukraine,” Swerchowsky said. “The pictures and the messages that we get from them are heartbreaking. This hit our family pretty hard.”
Maria started volunteering at MedWish International, which has a warehouse in downtown Cleveland, to help sort through medical supplies and equipment that’s being collected for relief. She also started an Amazon Wishlist and shared it online with friends and family to gather additional supplies.
“That night my phone was just blowing up. We had raised over $10,000 in medical supply donations in 24 hours from MedWish,” Swerchowsky said. “They just kept coming. The donations just kept flying off of the Amazon wish list.”
Within a week, Swerchowsky had collected thousands of items that covered her front porch and filled her garage. Maria and her father celebrated while packing the donations for delivery.
“Every time I unpack a box, I look at the little note in there and it's a wish for my family, for Ukraine,”Swerchowsky said. “We've gotten a ton of diapers and formula, and that's wonderful. But the most needed items are the critical wound care items.”
While she’s grateful for the donations, her ultimate wish is for a peaceful ending to this conflict.
“My hope is that once the war is over and Ukraine is victorious, that I'll be able to put another wish list together to help them rebuild,” she said. “I know how lucky I am to be here. As long as there's a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, I will be here delivering MedWish donations.”
If you’d like to donate, you can see Maria’s original Facebook post here or purchase supplies from her Amazon Wishlist here.
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