SMILE and Just Us raise over $4,000 for Ukraine


Photo by Claire Layden

Bulletin board displaying sunflowers that represent a donation made by a member of the Nazareth family.

Claire Layden

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began at the end of February, the world has watched the devastation and many have felt a desire to help those affected. The Nazareth community, led by student groups SMILE and Just Us, through fundraising efforts, have raised thousands of dollars to support the families who have been displaced and otherwise affected by Russia’s ongoing aggression. 

While the Russian invasion into the Ukraine began on February 24, the clash between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for some time. AP European History teacher Erich Kittlaus said, “Putin doesn’t want Ukraine, which borders Russia, to join NATO and be so pro-west. The last several years he’s been doing things to reaffirm his grasp on Ukraine.”

Once the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union was dissolved, Ukraine became independent from Russia but in ways still remained loyal and tied to them. In 2014, Ukraine’s ties with Russia started dissolving. 

“That’s when things started changing and there was a mini democratic revolution in Ukraine where they elected a leader who was much more focused on being a western country. They’ve been a lot less connected to Russia and then started to attempt joining NATO,” said Kittlaus. 

While Ukraine has impressed the world with its ability to stand its ground against Russian forces since the start of the invasion, they are still fighting a tough war and they need help. 

“The United Nations considers this attack to be a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. It is contrary to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations,” said the United Nations website. The invasion results in a dire humanitarian situation and as the assault continues into its third month, more horrific images and reports surface daily. 

International organizations have condemned Russia’s actions and many are saying Russia’s actions equate to war crimes. Many reports reveal indiscriminate attacks on civilians, healthcare facilities and humanitarian corridors. Countries in battle are strictly forbidden to attack innocent civilians, yet Russia doesn’t seem to be following those rules. 

Through the efforts of the student groups, a total of  $4,294.72 was collected and will be sent to help support Ukrainians that are affected by the war. 

Junior HienMy Nguyen, a member of Just Us, said, “The donations that were collected will be split up towards two organizations. The Catholic Relief Services is where the money will be used to help families affected from Ukraine. The other half of the donations are going to CARE’s Ukraine Crisis Fund, which provides resources like immediate aid and recovery.”

Nguyen helped the cause personally by visiting several homerooms to collect donations as well as contributing to the cause herself. 

Junior Diana Anos, a member of SMILE, said, “SMILE and Just Us collaborated to run a Lenten drive for elderly refugees escaping from the conflict in Ukraine.”

This drive is just another example of how the Nazareth community lives by the pillar of service and care for the dear neighbor even when those in need are in another part of the world.