GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Four students at Notre Dame Academy, including exchange students from Ukraine and Russia, started a drive to help people in Ukraine as Russia's invasion on the country continues.
People have donated hundreds of items to the drive so far, including clothing, diapers, blankets, coats, dry food, medical supplies and sleeping bags. Items will be sent to aid humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
"Everyone just, like, left their house. They didn't even have a chance to kind of pack," Vlada Klymenko, a Notre Dame Academy student from Ukraine.
This is Klymenko's first year at Notre Dame Academy. As Klymenko attends school thousands of miles away from home, she worries about friends and family still in Ukraine.
"It's still so scary. They can hear shooting, bombs sometimes, airplanes and everything," Klymenko said. "They can hear everything, but they're safer now."
Klymenko said some of her loved ones have left the country. Others are still in Kyiv, where she's from. Klymenko said her mom left home a couple days ago after hearing there may be an attack in the area she was at.
Right now, her family is safe. Klymenko said she hopes the school's donation drive can help people like her family.
"I hope it will get to Ukraine and it will help people who really need them," Klymenko said.
Alexandra Schweiner, a Notre Dame Academy student, is running the drive with help from her mom and church.
The war abroad hits home for Schweiner too: her family also lives in Ukraine.
"They are safe, but they can still hear the sirens, and the bombs and the missiles that are going over head. I try and talk to them every day," Schweiner said.
Milana Volkova, a Notre Dame Academy student from Russia, got involved with the drive to help people in need. She said her family is safe in Russia, but wants to help her friends' families.
“It’s hard to see what’s going on between Ukraine and Russia, because I feel Ukrainian people and Russians are pretty close," Volkova said. "I think it’s just one thing I can do, is collect items to deliver to other people in need. It makes me feel happy that I can do that here and people around me here want to do that.”
All four of the girls have become good friends. They've come together to make a difference, helping those they know abroad and strangers alike from more than 5,000 miles away.
“People from all different heritages, all different place of the world, can come together and work. It’s crazy to see how much we’ve done with four girls who’ve put it on in such a short amount of time," said Gabrielle Ruggles, a Notre Dame Academy student. “I’ve thought about what I can do to make an impact and everything, and it’s kind of hard to do that from Green Bay, Wisconsin. You wonder how a school countless miles away can truly make an impact. But it’s really cool to see it all.”
During a class, students tied yellow and blue blankets to send to people in Ukraine. The girls also organized a bake sale and sold cookies during lunch to raise money for the drive.
Photo courtesy: Notre Dame Academy
All donated items will be collected by a Ukrainian-American volunteer who will drive them to Chicago. The Ukrainian Postal Service will fly the donations to Poland, which will end up in Lviv, Ukraine.
The drive runs through March 25. Monetary donations can be made at the school or online.