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donation drive

Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (seated) and an aide, Caitlin Curry, examined the donated items. Photo from Leg. Bontempi's office

Recently, Suffolk County Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (Centerport) began an effort out of her district office in collaboration with the county executive to collect essential supplies for the people of Ukraine.  Bontempi called for a variety of items (e.g., cold weather clothing, boots, baby and medical supplies, etc.) that are so desperately needed by individuals in Ukraine, whether they have been displaced by the attacks or are fighting for their freedom.

Despite the short duration – due to logistical factors – of the supply drive, Bontempi’s office experienced overwhelming support for the effort.  In addition to other Suffolk County legislative offices participating in a similar fashion, various levels of government assisted with their own drives, as did numerous faith-based organizations and many others near and far.  The participation of generous donors to the numerous drives that materialized was so great that many partners in the undertaking called off collections earlier than anticipated due to exceeding storage capacity.

“We were absolutely overwhelmed, but not surprised, by the willingness of the residents to help out the people of Ukraine.  Despite what we learn from the media, there is still a tremendous amount of good in the world.  If we continue to stand up for freedom for all, good will triumph over evil,” said Bontempi.

Although some drives for supplies have been suspended, there remains a possibility of future rounds, should the conflict in Ukraine be a protracted one.  Bontempi’s office will certainly step up and inform the residents of future opportunities to assist if and when they are set in motion.

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank all those who have participated in this inspiring show of support,” added Bontempi.

Pixabay photo

In an effort to ease the suffering of all those subject to the devastation and terror being inflicted upon the Ukrainian nation, Senator Mario R. Mattera (2nd Senate District) and his staff will be hosting a humanitarian supply drive on Saturday, March 26th, from 10 a.m. to noon in their district office located at 180 East Main Street in Smithtown.

The effort is intended to assist all in the region including animals who were displaced when their families evacuated.

Senator Mattera’s office is coordinating this effort with the staff and students of Kings Park Central School District (KPCSD) and local nonprofit Nobody Starves on Long Island.

To assist families of Ukraine, KPCSD is collecting items that will be shipped overseas to assist the citizens of Ukraine.  The KPCSD drive will accept a host of items including medical items (including bandages, gauze and medicine), empty boxes, flashlights, batteries, garbage bags and personal items including warm clothing, boots, socks, tooth care, personal cleaning supplies and feminine hygiene products.

KPCSD will deliver all items to The Monastery of Saint Josaphat in Glen Cove for delivery to those in need in the region.

To assist Ukrainian pets in need, Nobody Starves on Long Island will be accepting pet supplies to help animals that in many cases have lost their owners and their homes.  To help the nonprofit, Senator Mattera’s office is accepting pet items such as pet food, leashes, food bowls, treats and collars.

The office will not be accepting cash donations at the event or in their office.

“We are hopeful that everyone in our community will join us in helping all who have been impacted by the attack on the Ukrainian people.  This unwarranted assault on their homes must be countered by the kindness of our community and I thank everyone who will or who has helped in this effort.  Thank you to Nobody Starves on Long Island and everyone at the Kings Park School District for their selfless work.  Together, we can bring hope to those who are suffering,” stated Senator Mattera.

Any resident who is unable to attend the Saturday, March 26, event is invited to drop off items at Senator Mattera’s district office during regular business hours.  The office is located in 180 East Main Street, Suite 210, in Smithtown. For more information, call 631-361-2154.

Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr., at podium, announces the addition of tactile defensive equipment from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department to donations already collected for Ukrainians. Photo by Raymond Janis

Leaders gathered for a second straight week outside of the office of Dr. David Buchin, director of bariatric surgery at Huntington Hospital and coordinator of the Long Island Ukraine Emergency Response Drive, to announce a new round of donations to the Ukrainian war front.

Serge Sklyarenko, of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, has recently emerged as a visible figure of Ukrainian solidarity on Long Island. Photo by Raymond Janis

Buchin and his wife, Helene, launched the supply drive last week. Helene Buchin recounted her husband’s flight from Uzbekistan, a former Soviet bloc nation, when he was very young. Having experienced Russian belligerence firsthand, the Buchins consider humanitarian aid to Ukraine as a family priority. 

“My husband is an American immigrant who fled Russia when he was 2 years old,” she said. “This cause is very much in our hearts.”

Along with the thousands of pieces of essential supplies already donated, this week’s donation included tactical defensive equipment from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. (D) announced that his office will donate nearly 450 bulletproof vests to protect the Ukrainian people in their armed struggle against the Russian invasion.

“We stand with the people of Ukraine and want to help in any way that we can,” Toulon said. “I’m proud to announce that the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office has been able to step up and provide materials that can help keep them safe.”

College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving also joined the initiative. College Hunks representatives announced that the company would repurpose its moving trucks to transport the donated materials to a New York City processing facility. From there, they will be sent to New Jersey and finally Poland, where they will be distributed to the Ukrainians. 

Ted Panebianco, local co-owner of the College Hunks franchise, thanked the people of Long Island. He believes Long Islanders have once again demonstrated that they can answer the call whenever suffering people are in need.

“Every time there is a chance to go out and help people, the Long Island community comes out in a big way and donates generously,” he said. “At College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving, our purpose is to move the world. We are honored and grateful to have this opportunity to do it in probably the biggest way we ever have.”

Serge Sklyarenko, of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, has recently emerged as a visible figure of Ukrainian solidarity on Long Island. With a Ukrainian flag draped around his neck, he said the flag reflects his love of country and his close attachment to the cause of Ukrainian resistance.

“It feels like I have a piece of Ukraine right next to me, that it’s close to my heart,” Sklyarenko said, adding, “I have a lot of family in Ukraine in many different cities. They have gone through rough times, going in and out of bomb shelters. Some of my friends are on the front lines, some without any military experience.”

While the faces surrounding him may change from week to week, Sklyarenko’s message remains firm and unaltered. He warns that the Ukrainian crisis points to the repetition of a dangerous historical precedent, a foreshadowing of all-out global conflict. 

“In 1939 Hitler attacked Poland, he did not stop,” he said. “I feel that Putin is doing something similar. I don’t think he’s going to stop.”

Sklyarenko said the Biden administration must adopt a tougher posture toward Russia, a foreign policy which includes a no-fly zone over Ukrainian airspace and the complete prohibition on the import of Russian oil.