Chuhuiv Mayor Galina Minayeva talks with workers at the site of a school destroyed in a Russian strike.
Shocked and angered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Harpswell residents raised more than $40,000 in April 2022 for three nonprofits to buy food and medical supplies and provide aid to children.
More than a year after Russia’s onslaught, its forces continue to hammer cities and towns, killing or wounding thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers, and obliterating schools, hospitals, homes and apartment complexes.
With fighting and bloodshed worsening, our small town is stepping up. Again.
On May 10, The School House 1913 restaurant will, for the second year, host a free fundraiser from 5-7 p.m. This time, donations will go toward one cause: vans for Chuhuiv, a small Eastern Ukrainian city 25 miles from Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city; and 75 miles from the Russian border.
Chuhuiv Mayor Galina Minayeva said in a Zoom call with two Harpswell supporters that she is thrilled with the offer of help. She said Chuhuiv desperately needs vans to deliver food and medical supplies to its eight surrounding villages, especially to its elderly residents.
Viktoriia Khomenko, who heads up project management for Chuhuiv, said in the Zoom call that the city would be “incredibly grateful … for doing incredibly great things for our community and our people.”
All donations will go through the nonprofit TAPS Ukraine, part of TAPS International, which provides “direct support to Ukrainian soldiers, internally displaced people, families who’ve lost a loved one and all those suffering in the conflict,” according to its website.
The organization is based in Arlington, Virginia, and was created in 1994 by Bonnie Carroll. Carroll’s husband, Army Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll, was killed in an Army plane crash in Alaska in 1992.
A May 10 fundraiser at The School House 1913 will support the purchase of vans for TAPS Ukraine to transport food and medical supplies in Chuhuiv, Ukraine.
Bonnie Carroll retired as a major in the Air Force Reserve after 30 years of service, according to the TAPS website. She also served in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. In 2015, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
TAPS International has been working with Ukraine since 2014, when the U.S. State Department asked the organization to help Ukraine develop a program to support the families of service members killed during the conflict in the Donbas region that started that year.
Used vans for Chuhuiv will be purchased in Europe and delivered to Chuhuiv from an Eastern European country. Details about the vans, costs and method of delivery depend on the availability of vans, drivers and safe routes into Ukraine.
Chuhuiv’s air base was destroyed by a Russian missile attack on the second day of the war in February 2022. Two schools and apartment buildings also were destroyed or damaged and a 14-year-old boy was killed.
The city was liberated by Ukrainian forces less than two weeks later. In July 2022, four rockets were fired at apartments, killing three people and injuring hundreds. Chuhuiv is now trying to rebuild its destroyed infrastructure.
“Harpswell is a truly amazing place,” said former state Sen. Brownie Carson, of Harpswell, who’s part of a bipartisan core group of Ukrainian fundraisers, including former state Rep. Jay McCreight, also of Harpswell. Volunteers are “the heart and soul of Harpswell,” Carson said, “and this fundraiser is really important.”
Look for flyers throughout the area, created by Tom Brudzinski. For more information or to volunteer, email organizers Jerry Klepner at firstname.lastname@example.org or Connie Sage Conner at email@example.com. Donate at taps.org/harpswell or find the event’s Facebook page at tinyurl.com/harpswell-ukraine.