Ukrainian Cheektowaga Church does its part for Ukraine with diaper donation campaign

The social hall at Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Cheektowaga gradually filled with diapers, wipes and children’s clothes on Thursday. This was the request of various Ukrainian refugee aid groups, reflecting the large crowd of young children forced to flee their homeland due to the Russian invasion.

On half of the more than 2 million people who fled the war in Ukraine are children, and there have even been instances where children have had to make the journey alone. The UN refugee agency has called it the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn encouraged local police departments to donate. Two Tonawanda City police cars responded to the call.

“They wanted diapers, sizes one through six, formula, baby food but only sachets…baby wipes, and finally protein bars,” said the Tonawanda City Police Captain, Joseph Milosich, on the supplies brought in by his department, adding that there were also clothing donations from the Ken-Ton Closet. “I think we have a lot of support and so we got a lot of those five things.”

The Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Cheektowaga has organized a campaign to donate children’s supplies to help Ukrainians.

Parish President Victor Zahybaj said donated goods will be placed on pallets and shipped to New Jersey by a local trucker. There they will be loaded onto air freighters to Poland and then taken to Ukraine for distribution.

Zahybaj came here as a child from the refugee camps in Germany because they couldn’t go back to Ukraine and the people in the parish still have family there.

“Our priest, his brother, his family, his mother are still there. There are a number of other parishioners who still have family there,” he said. “My family is long gone. Most of them were killed during the war or after. Some of them were sent to Siberia and perished there.

The chatter of the Ukrainian language could be heard across the room, reminding people that there are recent immigrants to this community, as well as those who arrived in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Jerry B. Hatch