RIVERHEAD, NY – When the call for help was made, the community rallied in large numbers, organizing donation drives and other efforts to get supplies to war-torn Ukraine.
But now at least one church is packed and has asked that the donations consist only of medicine and medical supplies.
As of March 18, St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Riverhead said that due to many overstocked items, only medical supplies can be accepted at this time.
“We will resume our regular collection as soon as we get the green light from our shipping company,” a message to the community said.
When news of the invasion broke, Reverend Bohdan Hedz of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church spoke to Patch. Hedz said he and his parish will continue their efforts to help friends and family in Ukraine. “Since 2014, when the whole situation unraveled in Ukraine, our parish has been very proactive in sending humanitarian aid.”
Financial assistance is also needed to send the parcels overseas, he said.
His ties to Ukraine are deeply personal, Hedz said: His mother and his wife’s mother, father, sister and brother live in Ukraine.
“It’s scary,” he said.
His own mother, 67, will not be leaving, Hedz said.
“My mom is a badass, and I’m not kidding,” he said. While she has a visa and Hedz told her she will always have a place in the United States with him and his family, she refused. “She said ‘no’,” he said. “I asked, ‘What are you going to do? She said, ‘If I need to bear arms, I will fight,'” he said. “She’s my mother and I know her. I wouldn’t expect anything less.”
Hedz said he was incredulous that in the 21st century Europe’s second-largest country after Russia, with more than 40 million people, was under attack.
“The world is already not the same,” he said.
Mass is held daily at the church, 820 Pond View Road, daily at 9 a.m. Drug donations, as well as monetary contributions, can be sent to this address, Hedz said.