Omaha family, community sending thousands of pounds of supplies to Ukraine
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - For Jon Driscoll, the war in Ukraine is personal.
“We’ve lost half a dozen friends, just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. . . my wife’s from Ukraine, we met in Ukraine, we were married in Ukraine, all of our friends and family are in Ukraine, it’s my second home.”
When the war broke out, Jon knew he had to do something. In March, he started gathering supplies and donations to send to the country using his connections there.
Those connections are through his non-profit, One Child Inc. The Omaha-based organization collects items to help support at risk women and children in Ukraine.
But now, their purpose has expanded.
“On February 24, the world changed and my group of 24 volunteers went from distributing coats and shoes to orphanages, to getting people to safety, helping refugees get out of the country, and additionally, delivering supplies to people sheltering in place,” Jon says.
6 News spoke with Jon when he first began accepting donations. Now, two months later, the community has helped send nearly eight tons of clothes, diapers, hygiene products, shoes, toys and more to those in need.
“In March we packed 27 boxes, in April we packed 130 boxes, last Saturday we packed 63 boxes and on June 18 we’re probably going to pack another 80 boxes. I never would’ve imagined that.”
In addition to the boxes of supplies, they’ve been able to send bullet-proof vests to their volunteers on the ground, purchase a 10-person van for volunteers to drive refugees to the border, and have raised nearly $80,000.
Jon’s daughter, adopted from Ukraine, raised more than $20,000 herself.
$69,000 has gone to paying for gas for volunteers to drive boxes of supplies to the more than 1,000 families they are helping who are sheltering in place. They’ve also driven more than 800 refugees to safety.
Gas in Ukraine equates to around $8/gallon in the U.S. right now.
They’ve trucked over 200 tons of food and medical supplies from Lviv to Odessa, and are working with other organizations on the ground to provide as much as possible.
Jon says he talks to those who he’s helping, and that it’s making a difference.
“They can barely get the words out to say thank you, and in some cases when our volunteers show up at the door, some people have said I knew you would come, I knew you wouldn’t forget us.”
Jon says the community’s response has been overwhelming.
“We found something that people can do to help and its been tremendous, you can see, Omaha has turned out in a big way to help Ukraine, and we’re grateful.”
Jon says the war was only supposed to last three days, but now, we’re on day 90.
He says as long as the community is willing to give, and as long as the war continues, they’ll help as much as possible.
“How long this is gunna go, I don’t know, we’re ready for it though. If this continues another two years, three years, we’re in this for the long run. This isn’t a short term deal.”
Donations can be taken to the Covenant Presbyterian Church at 144th and Blondo. The next packing party for supplies will be Saturday, June 18, from 9am to noon.
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