Local organization provides aid to Ukraine families amid conflict

Thee group packed over 20,000 meals on Saturday.
Thee group packed over 20,000 meals on Saturday.(WAVE 3)
Published: Mar. 6, 2022 at 3:27 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As the conflict in Ukraine rages on, thousands of Ukrainians are leaving their country for fear of their lives.

Many of them end up in the homes of strangers without basic needs. In response, people from across the world are stepping up to help, including people in Louisville.

Young volunteers from across the city came out to pack meals on Saturday for Ukrainian families through a partnership between Louisville Catholic Schools and nonprofits called Love the Hungry and Operation Ukraine.

Marianna Grabova, 15, was one of the volunteers who participated at Love the Hungry’s packing center in Jeffersontown preparing meals for families just like hers.

Grabova is the daughter of two refugee parents from Ukraine who immigrated to the states in 1996. Her older brother Alexi was born in the Ukraine.

“I grew up in a very traditional Ukrainian household, she said. “So, I feel a very strong connection to Ukraine. It’s my love, it’s my home, it’s my country.”

Some of Grabova’s relatives are still in Western Ukraine not far from the bombings.

“My aunt and Uncle are currently digging a hole in their floor with a shovel in order to build a bomb shelter,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking. We worry for them. They are so brave.”

Grabova’s story caught the eye of Dale Oelker, the executive director and co-founder of Love the Hungry. Oelker had been planning this event for awhile, hoping to gather students from five Louisville Catholic schools to pack and send meals to the refugees.

He wanted Grabova to be the one to lead the event to give a firsthand accounts of how badly these families are hurting.

“They have very limited access to the most basic needs,” Oelker said. “A meal like this that is very easy to prepare but also provides a lot of nutritional boost is going to be very helpful for those families.”

Volunteers packed more than 20,000 meals on Saturday, all of which will be shipped to Poland to be delivered to those who need it most.

”Donate, support the people of Ukraine,” Grabova urged. “Keep them in your thoughts and prayers, but also to make sure that [you’re] actually having a tangible impact onto the people of Ukraine.”

This event marked Love the Hungry’s 10th anniversary celebration, serving more than 7.5 million meals in that time.

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