WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — It’s been nearly three months since Russia invaded Ukraine, and local efforts to support those impacted by the war continue to grow.
Members of the Genoa Baptist Church in Westerville are working to make sure those displaced by the war don’t go hungry in the process.
On Friday, more than 200 people made up assembly lines — scooping food, filling backs, and packing boxes — including a Ukrainian refugee who only arrived in the United States on Monday.
“Just to know that this person came here from Ukraine, and now she’s helping. She knows people personally,” marvels Linda Fitzpatrick, a volunteer and 12-year member of the church.
Valeria didn’t speak English, but through translation, she told NBC4, “I am very happy to be with these wonderful people. Thank God that I am with you and can help Ukraine. I am grateful to all Americans for caring and helping my country. Many thanks from all Ukrainians. You are the best! We will definitely win!”
More than 1,000 volunteers signed up after a call for help just three weeks ago. Each one dedicated to making sure no Ukrainian goes hungry.
“I got to do this nine years ago when we did this for the Philippines, and just knowing we can be the hands and feet — Ukraine is so far away, but yet we’re reaching and we’re touching people,” Fitzpatrick adds.
Volunteers are meticulously packing meals one-by-one.
When the work is done, more than 216,000 meals will be sent to displaced victims in Ukraine, Poland, and surrounding areas.
“We feel like we can make a difference,” encourages Frank Carl, the church’s lead pastor. “There’s so many things happening in the world we don’t feel like we can anything about. But, certainly God wants the church to be actively involved in caring for the needs of other people.”
The meals are made possible by an organization called Heaven Sent Ministries.
“When we first began, I was confronted by a starving child. That’s what really motivated me and moved me into doing this,” recalls Lyle Mullins, the organization’s founder, and president.
Their ministry has shipped food to 20 countries across the world, helping feed millions of malnourished children and adults.
These meals will arrive to Ukrainians in just a matter of weeks.
And while for the volunteers it’s no small task, it’s a huge helping hand to so many with so little right now.
“The world becomes a lot smaller when we’re helping each other and I really recommend anybody to do whatever you can to help these people,” Fitzpatrick reflects. “It’s the most sad situation.”