“It’s amazing to see how everyone has mobilized,” said Dawn Harsch, director of corporate communications for MVG Services. “Last week, things have flowed.”
the “flood” Harsch is referring to are donations that will be sent directly to the Ukrainian people through the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center in Buffalo.
Buffalo-based MVG Services includes three portfolios, Harsch said. These are the McGuire Group, Vestra Care and Absolut Care, which include 17 retirement homes throughout Chautauqua County, the Buffalo area and parts of Western New York. They are owned by Long Island businessman Edward Farbenblum.
The idea of raising tangible donations for the people of Ukraine was floated by McGuire Group chairman Stephen Eaton-Mercurio, Harsch said. He contacted the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Dnipro to coordinate the relief effort.
“It was mainly because some of our employees and some of our residents wanted to help,” Harsch said.
Community drop-off centers have been established in all 17 nursing homes. Employees had banners made, boxes printed and sent out a press release.
Area care homes were stunned at how quickly the community responded, Harsch said. “When one of our staff hung the banner outside one of the venues, people would stop and ask, ‘Where can I donate?'” Harsh said.
What began as a steady stream of donations, “doubled and tripled last week” Harsh said.
She added, “People want to give and they go out of their way to give.”
For example, 16 residents of the Asbury Point Nursing Home hand knitted stuffed dolls and donated them. A Findley Lake couple borrowed their daughter’s van to take the donations to a drop-off center.
“And the Autumn View healthcare facility in Hamburg collected more than 40 boxes of donated items,” she added.
Although the company asked for tangible donations, monetary donations were also accepted, either by check or through the PayPal account listed on the cultural center’s website.
“An organization donated $100,000,” Harsch said.
Harsch noted that Westfield’s Absolut Care donates a large amount of medical items. An Absolut employee said he was donating two pallets of medical supplies, including oxygen tubes, bandages, gloves, surgical masks and tracheostomy kits.
Harsch thinks one of the reasons the response to the drive has been so great is that people know the donated items will go directly to people who need them. “It gives you satisfaction when you choose things because you know someone needs them,” Harsh said. “He’s coming to the right place.”
Harsch said she and Amy McKnight, activities director at Autumn View, needed to come up with a logistical plan to get all the donations to Buffalo. There are nine locations in the Buffalo area from which donations will be collected first. After that, some of the maintenance men will drive trucks to pick up donations from the facilities along the southern section and the drivers will then drive to the eastern section.
Once the goods are in Buffalo, McKnight and his team will sort the materials and pack them into boxes. After that, all donated goods will be forwarded to the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Cheektowaga, as the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Dnipro cannot handle such a large amount of goods.
From there, the Cultural Center — which has been helping Ukrainians for many years — will transport donations to help refugees in Poland, as well as soldiers, Harsch said.