The Russian invasion of Ukraine, started on February 24th, 2022, has resulted in a humanitarian crisis that has led millions of Ukrainians to flee their war torn country. During this ongoing time of crisis, both Ridgewood High School and the town of Ridgewood as a whole are finding ways to help however they can.
Project Interact, a volunteering based club, is notably proactive in their efforts. “Project Interact is always quick to take action when needed. So, when we heard about the issues with Russia and Ukraine, we reacted almost immediately,” said student leader Amanda Schnure.
On Friday, March 4th, Project Interact encouraged its members and all students to dress in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag. “I Stand with Ukraine” stickers were created by the wood shop teacher and offered at the main entrance by Project Interact member volunteers. They also collected a “dollar at the door” in shaker cans. On this day alone, $2,700 dollars were collected.
Emily Sosa, a Project Interact student leader, shared, “I currently have extended family in Ukraine right now, and it’s been difficult for my family to sit and watch all the horrible events unfold. However, seeing people within the school wearing or having the ‘I Stand With Ukraine’ sticker comforts me in a way of knowing that there are people who are out there supporting the cause.”
Club members extended their support for Ukraine through collecting more donations through shaker cans. This simultaneously raised awareness for the issue as these students went to various locations in the high school. According to Ms. Reilly, a teacher supervisor of Project Interact, an unknown student was generous enough to have donated ten one hundred-dollar bills at lunch. The humanitarian service organization Rotary International, in alliance with Project Interact, donated $1,000. Additionally, its members were moved to donate $700 more. With these donations, and the $4,251 dollars collected in shaker cans alone, the club raised a total of $6,250 for Ukraine.
Project Interact reached out to a Ukrainian RHS alumni, a student at MIT who currently runs an Ukrainian club, for help in finding the right place to give away the raised money. Currently, club leaders are researching a list of charities to donate to.
“Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be a need for quite some time with a lot of the refugees… So the students are very much on top of it, very much concerned”, said Ms. Reilly when asked about student involvement with the issue.
Aside from the Project Interact club, the Oasis Club collected donations for a Ukrainian church and the Applied Engineering Club prepared bins by the entrances for donations.
RHS is also helping through the Freshman Class Delegates, who raised money for Ukraine through running a bake sale on March 8th. Also, the Support Our Troops Club is collecting and writing letters until March 25th to the American military troops currently deployed in Latvia.
Furthermore, George Washington Middle School is collecting donations for Ukraine. The YMCA is collecting monetary and non-monetary donations. Feeney Funeral Home and Steel Wheel Tavern are flying the Ukrainian flag and many town residents are giving donations to a Ukrainian family that came to the United States for a vacation and were not unable to return home.
Ridgewood has united as one to bring awareness to the issue of Ukraine as well as show its support to the Ukrainians who are currently struggling. The town has made it clear that it stands on the side of love and peace, and has done so through various forms of volunteering.
Graphic: Zoe Kovac