The Putnam County Mother's Day Weekend fundraiser to help the Ukrainian refugees in Poland was a big success, organizers said.
"So many people donated and so many people volunteered to help, it was just amazing," said Sylwia Wojcik, a Mahopac resident and native of Poland, who worked with Putnam County government officials to create the three-day event. "People just kept coming. They donated a little bit of everything – baby products, clothing, shampoos, first aid kits – everything."
Wojcik said that Putnam residents and businesses donated enough to fill a 40-foot shipping container to send to Poland, where millions of Ukrainian refugees have taken shelter. Now volunteers will organize, pack the shipping container and send it off to Poland.
While every donation was greatly appreciated, Wojcik noted the remarkable generosity of some businesses and individuals. The Unilever corporation donated $100,000 worth of diapers and feminine hygiene products; Tops Friendly Markets donated a variety of foods and products; Liffey Van Lines donated moving boxes; Jean and Don Rhuda, of Mahopac, donated $2000 for shipping; Giorgio Spanu and Nancy Olnick, founders of Magazzino Italian Art Museum and Foundation in Cold Spring, donated $2,000; and a Carmel dentist, Dr Mark Sawycky, who is Ukrainian, donated gifts for children and adults – and he volunteered all day on Saturday.
"I'm not surprised that the fundraiser was big hit," Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said. "I know our residents. This is a county that steps up to help people in need."
Odell's administration helped organize the event, which ran from May 6 to May 8 at the Paladin Center in Carmel, and publicized it with a website -- putnamcountycares.com/ukraineaid/ -- designed by Thomas Lannon, Director of the county's Information, Technology & GIS Department. The Putnam County Sheriff's Department helped staff the event, but it was Putnam County Legislature Chairman Neal L. Sullivan who first reached out to Wojcik in March to see how the county could help.
"The war in Ukraine with and the massive exodus of refugees is a global tragedy," Sullivan said. "But it is also a local tragedy, since Putnam County is home to many Eastern Europeans. As Putnam County leaders, we did this for the world, but also for our neighbors."
Neighbors helped neighbors throughout the event.
The Paladin Center donated its space for the collection drive and is allowing all of the items to be stored on its property until the shipment can be made.
"A big shoutout to our Putnam County residents who are always there during trying times like Brendan McDonnell and Denis Hanrahan who always show up rain or shine."
"I want to give a really big 'Thank you' to all volunteers, especially Karolina Zaba, Beata Michalczuk, Marta Gil, Sylwia Urbanski, Magda and Andrzej Rusinowski," Wojcik said. "I also want to thank all the Ukrainian people who came and helped tremendously, and, of course, all the American citizens who helped."
While the collection drive is over, those who want to help the Ukrainian refugees can buy medical supplies directly through an Amazon page set up by the county. Monetary donations are also still being accepted at the sites Wojcik recommended. For links to the Amazon page and donation sites see: putnamcountycares.com/ukraineaid/
For more information on Putnam County, see putnamcountyny.com/