COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A grassroots effort to raise donations for the people of Ukraine has reached more than $10,000, and it’s being led by a pair of central Ohio teenagers.
The original goal for Wyatt Malishenko and Zoe Knobeloch was to raise $5,000 for Ukrainian relief in an effort that started three weeks ago.
“It started out as an idea that was born during lunchtime,” Malishenko said.
While at the lunch table, they weren’t pondering their next class or homework assignment, but a way to help the people of Ukraine, after seeing the horrors of the Russian invasion.
“We realized then and there that we could do something and that we could make something work,” Malishenko said.
That was the moment when the two 17-year-olds approached administrators at Granville High School, asking to hold a relief drive for Ukraine.
They not only received support from the school, allowing them to place donation boxes around the building but were encouraged to spread the drive even further.
“My mom and I got into contact with the owner of Ross Market, and then he helped us expand this idea,” Malishenko said. “It’s been, by far, like, the beating heart of this project.”
He said that since the drive started on April 18, they’ve raised more than $10,000 in medical supplies, canned goods, hygiene products, and monetary donations, doubling their initial goal.
“People are really thinking about what they’re choosing to donate,” Malishenko said. “They aren’t just like grabbing something random. They’re making sure it’s what’s desperately needed.”
And he says it’s all thanks to the community, as well as Grace Evangelical Church, which sends the donations directly to Ukraine without any third party or other organization.
He and Knobeloch hope their efforts will inspire others in the community to get involved.
“I had no idea that it really was even possible for people my age to do this until we started pushing and trying to do it,” Malishenko said. “So I really do hope that other people, not just Ukraine, but humanitarian efforts of all sorts, get this kind of attention. Not just from adults, but from younger people like myself.”
The drive will continue until May 13, and the duo has set a new goal to reach $15,000 in donations by then.
To donate to the relief effort, click here.