Anchorage nonprofit working to bring 600 Ukrainians to Alaska

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 9:23 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As the war continues between Russia and Ukraine, many people are asking how they can help. A group of volunteers got together in Anchorage and answered that exact question.

The New Chance Inc. Ukraine Relief Program is a local nonprofit organization looking to airlift 600 of Ukrainians out of Poland and bring them into Alaska, then help integrate them into the community.

Zori Opanasevych, the director of the program, said the displaced Ukrainians on the flight have family in Alaska and the only thing that’s stopping them right now are funds.

“We have a need of $750,000 to pay for the fuel, for the expense of the plane. And so we’re raising money, we’re actively working, we’re doing different events and contacting churches and businesses,” Opanasevych said. “We have a group of businessmen here in Anchorage who have agreed to match donations, so any donation that somebody makes, they will double that.”

The organization also has an airline that has agreed to partner with them to do the trips, with support from both Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

“As mayor, I stand ready to work with the faith-based community and relief organizations to facilitate the expedited passage of Ukrainian refugees Into Anchorage and Alaska,” Bronson stated in a letter to the nonprofit.

“I urge Alaskans, the business sectors, and all levels of governance including local, borough, state, and federal administrations and policymakers, to support, incentivize, aide, and welcome Ukrainians to our State who seek refuge, sanctuary, asylum, and who comply with all the necessary background checks to enter our country,” Dunleavy said in his letter to the organization. “... Now is the time for Alaska to show its support for Ukraine.”

Until the flights get the go ahead, the organization is getting supplies ready for when refugees arrive, and helping those who are already here.

“Right now in Alaska there’s probably about 50 individuals that are here that we have worked with, and we help them whether it be dressing them, whether it be helping them fill out paperwork for authorization for employment, whether it be helping them get a job,” Opanasevych said. “We have a lot of success stories already.”

Another way the Ukraine Relief Program is helping is by sending aid to Ukraine, whether it be items or money.

They helped buy vans for evacuating people from the east to the west of Ukraine. When driving back to the east for more people, they are taking supplies and food with them.

Some of the main items the organization is looking for are:

  • Tourniquets
  • Blood control kits, or combat casualty response kits
  • Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) as it is self-contained and lightweight

And back home, the organization held a drive on Wednesday where people dropped off many different items, from baby supplies to toiletries and bedding for those thousands of miles away.

“They’re grateful that somebody so far away in Alaska, across the globe, cares about them and is opening up their homes and is preparing donations. They’re just very grateful, and there’s a lot of tears that’s happening now a days,” Opanasevych said.

For more information on The Ukraine Relief Program, visit the organization’s website.

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