How to Help Ukraine Right Now
After Russia’s recent military invasion, Ukraine’s residents are in need of aid. Here are some quick and effective ways to help, no matter where you are.
On Thursday, February 24, 2022, Americans woke up to the news that Russian President Vladimir Putin had launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine to demilitarize the country. After threatening to invade since November 2021, Russia attacked from three sides, leading to 40 Ukrainian casualties within the first few hours. By the end of the first day, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, reported 137 killed, including civilians and one child. Zelensky severed all diplomatic ties with Russia and declared martial law, so the military now has temporary control over the country. President Biden called Russia’s act of aggression “unprovoked,” “unjustified,” and “premeditated.”
The reasons for what’s happening in Ukraine are complicated, but the country—the second largest in Europe after Russia, and one that’s rich in natural resources—is a former Soviet Union republic that has been independent since 1991. Since 2014, when Russia invaded Ukraine and also annexed neighboring Crimea, 1.5 million Ukrainian residents have been displaced, and that number is expected to rise. With this latest military assault, more than 1 million people have fled the country and become refugees, and at least 2.9 million people are in need of immediate humanitarian support, according to the United Nations.
The impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is global, so it’s important to know what’s going on as well as how to find hope in dark times. One of those ways is to rally for change and help those in need.
What you can do to help
From writing to Congress to donating to humanitarian aid organizations, there are many ways to help the people of Ukraine right now. Remember that providing aid isn’t just about monetary donations. Though cash is certainly helpful and needed, there are a number of ways to volunteer creatively, even from a distance.
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With so much disinformation on the Internet, getting the facts about this crisis from reputable sources is critical. Stay apprised of the latest developments, understand how the conflict is affecting Ukraine and the global community, and then decide how you want to help.
- The Kyiv Independent is an English-language outlet reporting on how the invasion is impacting citizens, the economy, and politics. Their Twitter account is a good way to follow up-to-the-minute information.
- The New Voice of Ukraine provides news in multiple languages, including English, and provides Op-Eds and analysis from Ukrainian scholars in addition to breaking news.
- Ukraine World provides live updates on its website and is also active on Twitter.
- CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times are also providing live updates on their sites and on Twitter.
Contact your representatives
It takes only a minute to write to your Congressional representatives to ask them to support Ukraine and send aid, and this link simplifies the process. You can write a longer message, but simple and direct works just fine. The most important thing is to make your voice heard. Here is a sample message you can copy and paste or simply use for inspiration:
I write to ask you to move swiftly against the unprovoked and unjustified war Russia is waging on Ukraine. As your constituent, I ask that you speak for me in the halls of Congress and say that we will not tolerate this violent assault on Ukrainian sovereignty.
Send as much humanitarian, financial, and military aid to Ukraine as you can. Invest now in the resilience of the Ukrainian people, whose fragile democracy is at grave risk of falling under the pressure of this horrific assault.
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What you do in your own proverbial backyard makes more of a difference than you might realize.
- Engage in peaceful protests. Stand with Ukraine can help you find one near you. (FYI, here are some things to keep in mind when attending any type of protest.)
- Support Ukrainians in the United States. For example, New Yorkers showed up in droves to show their support at Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village that was founded by the current owner’s grandfather after he fled the Soviet Union in 1954.
- Raise money to donate to aid organizations. Having a garage sale to get rid of unwanted items is a win-win for everyone. You can also simply reach out to friends and family and organize an online fundraising drive.
Donate to humanitarian aid organizations
While there are plenty of ways for you to help without breaking the bank, the fact of the matter is that cash is needed during a crisis, and this is an easy way to do some good from afar. You can count on the following nonprofits to put your contributions to good use right now in Ukraine.
Founded in 2014, this U.S.-based nonprofit supports vulnerable populations in Ukraine, working closely with civil activists in the country to provide immediate response where it is most needed. While the organization typically collects clothing, cash donations are preferred right now, since “volunteers are overwhelmed and shipping to Ukraine is complicated,” explains Igor Krakov, a director at Nova Ukraine.
Krakov adds that continued support will be necessary. “The situation is quite dire,” Krakov tells Reader’s Digest, “and there’s little information about how the EU will handle the influx of refugees.” Plus, while the Ukrainian hospital system recently underwent a large reform and is reasonably well-funded, Krakov expects that the conflict will be “bloody” and will stress the country’s resources. For that reason, Nova Ukraine is conducting a joint fundraiser with the nonprofits Razom and Sunflower of Peace to provide tactical medical training to Ukrainians.
Razom’s mission is to increase civic engagement in Ukraine and amplify Ukrainian voices in the United States. While this nonprofit is based in New York, it has many partners in Ukraine. In this time of crisis, the organization is focused on delivering essential supplies to those who need them most.
United Help Ukraine
United Help Ukraine provides individual first-aid kits (including blood-stopping bandages and tourniquets) and other emergency medical supplies to the front lines. The nonprofit also receives and distributes donations and food to Ukrainian IDPs (internally displaced people).
The Ukrainian Red Cross
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The Ukrainian Red Cross uses funds to help those affected by armed conflict. They collect blood donations, mobilize volunteers and resources, and provide psychosocial support to Ukrainians dealing with the stress and psychological impact of the escalation after eight years of ongoing armed conflict.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)
The JDC has been on the ground helping in Ukraine, but now the organization is also securing temporary housing for IDPs, launching an emergency hotline, purchasing satellite phones to help Ukrainians in need maintain communication, securing Jewish schools, training staff on how to manage the crisis, and more. The group estimates that $16 million is needed to meet immediate and short-term needs.
Always a reliable place to donate during a crisis, UNICEF is working to meet urgent needs for water, health care, nutrition, and protection, as well as provide support to children whose schools have been damaged. Around 7.5 million children in Ukraine have been affected by the hostilities that pose an immediate threat to their well-being. The organization’s Ukrainian efforts are currently focused in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where child poverty rates average 60 percent.
Save the Children
Wondering exactly what your donation will do? Save the Children says that $50 can provide 10 warm blankets to children in need, $100 can supply a month’s worth of food to a family, and $175 can provide emergency shelter materials to those in the middle of this armed conflict.
International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Founded in 1933 at the behest of Albert Einstein in response to Germans suffering under the Nazi regime, the IRC has a long, storied history. It has come to the aid of refugees around the world and established emergency-aid programs for nearly every major conflict over the past 90 years. As part of its efforts in Ukraine, the IRC will be helping Ukrainian refugees in Poland receive necessary food, medical care, and other emergency support services.
This trusted organization has facilitated more than $100 million in disaster donations since 2004, helping with numerous crises from Afghanistan to Syria. By donating to its Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund, you will be helping to provide food, clean water, and shelter for refugees; medical and social support; and education and economic help to those in need.
The good people at Project Hope don’t just provide necessary health care to those in disaster-stricken areas, they also help clinics and hospitals get what they need and train local health care workers. Founded in 1958, the group also dedicates time and resources to finding solutions for diseases, health policy, and maternal and child health. Efforts in Ukraine are currently focused on getting medical supplies to refugees and making health screening and care accessible.
World Central Kitchen
World-renowned chef José Andrés is no stranger to helping in times of crisis. He founded World Central Kitchen in 2010 after the devastating earthquake in Haiti with a mission to help by providing food in the aftermath of a disaster. The nonprofit has already set up camp in Poland, Romania, and Moldova, and is feeding “hot, nourishing meals” to tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. It will also be looking into ways to help refugees entering Hungary and Slovakia, as well as working with two restaurants within Ukraine to help people still in the country.
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
Animals, especially shelter animals, are often left behind in times of crisis. IFAW is doing its best to make sure that doesn’t happen in Ukraine. Your donation will help two shelters in Donetsk and Gorlovka cover the costs of pet food, veterinary supplies, and more to care for the shelters’ 1,100 dogs that cannot be evacuated.