How you can support Ukraine: Tampa Bay steps up

The Epiphany of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church in St. Petersburg and Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church in South Tampa are among local organizations in Tampa Bay that are supporting humanitarian aid relief for the people of Ukraine, both those who remain in the country and those who have fled to neighboring countries to escape the escalating violence.

Starting with a prayer vigil on March 2, the Epiphany of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church launched a month-long effort to collect money and supplies for Ukrainian refugees in Poland. 

“Our official date for the relief effort was Saturday, March 5, but even before, people started bringing donations to the church,” says Iryna Karavan, a member of the church who is coordinating the relief effort. “We have eight volunteers working to organize the donations coming in. The turnout has been fantastic.”

The St. Petersburg church is partnering with Course of Action, a nonprofit organization based in Tampa that supports victims of natural disasters. Course of Action is currently directing its efforts to Ukraine humanitarian relief and working with nongovernmental organizations in the area to deliver critically needed basic supplies to refugees who have reached Poland.

Monetary donations are being accepted through the Course of Action Foundation website. Supplies are being collected at the church every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday through March 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The church is located at 434 90th Avenue North, St. Petersburg.  

“The guideline for donating supplies is very specific,” says Karavan. “All items must be small and everything must be packed in a two-gallon Ziploc bag, The bags will be transported to New York and then to Poland. In Poland, they will be placed into a backpack to be given out to individuals in need.”

The list of needed supplies includes:
  • First aid kits, bandaids
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Handy wipes
  • Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, aspirin
  • Small bottles of body wash, deodorant, shampoo, mouthwash, hand cream, hand sanitizer, cotton swabs
  • Baby wipes, diaper rash cream, baby bottles, pacifiers
  • Feminine toiletries
  • Children’s items such as coloring books and crayons
  • Granola bars
  • Small bags of cat and dog treats
  • Greeting cards for Ukrainian families
For more information, go to COA Foundation, Epiphany Ukrainian Catholic Church, and follow the Facebook page for Epiphany of Our Lord Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in St. Pete.

The church has also set up a link with Amazon Smiles for anyone who would like to donate supplies and have them delivered directly to the church. 

More Ukrainian relief

Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church is helping with Ukrainian relief efforts by partnering with the Evangelical School of Theology in Wroclaw, Poland, and the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program through the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.  

“We have a close connection with the Evangelical School of Theology in Wroclaw, Poland, and in fact, the rector and chancellor were just at our church recently,” says Assistant Pastor Nicole Partin Abdnour. “We have been to their school in Poland and several of our church members have been on the school’s International Board of Directors.

“At the outbreak of the conflict, the rector and chancellor emailed us to let us know what they were doing to support the refugees and how we might help,” the Rev. Abdnour continues.

The church is targeting collections from its annual “One Great Hour of Sharing” for the Evangelical School of Theology in Wroclaw. According to the church’s website, funds from the hour of sharing program “enable the church to provide relief to those affected by natural disasters, provide food to the hungry and help empower the poor and oppressed.” 

“Anyone who would like to support the Ukrainian relief effort can go to the church website and make a donation,” advises Abdnour.  

Tampa resident Marsha Rydberg is a member of the Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church and currently on the theology school’s board of directors. “It is a remarkable school that works with all religions and the city government in Wroclaw, Poland,” says Rydberg. 

“The school is now gearing up to work with other local churches and reputable charities in dispensing food and supplies, as well as helping new refugees learn the Polish language, which may be similar to Ukrainian but not the same,” says Rydberg. “It’s a multi-faceted program. They will also be helping the refugees deal with the emotional scars that come along with the situation.’’ 

In addition to making a donation through the church’s One Hour of Sharing program, the church also offers a link to the national Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. That program is sponsored by the PCUSA which is working with partners in the Ukraine and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe to support the refugee relief effort. Get more information.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Janan Talafer.

Janan Talafer enjoys writing for a diverse group of clients, including print and online publications, nonprofit organizations and public relations agencies. One of the highlights of her writing career was flying with the 91st Air Refueling Squadron out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa FL for a feature about this elite military team. A journalism graduate of Bowling Green State University (OH), Janan’s early career was in health care marketing and public relations for hospitals in Connecticut and Tampa Bay. She is an avid gardener, loves East Coast swing dance and enjoys touring around St. Petersburg on the back of her husband’s scooter.