Hempstead Town officials and Long Island Ukrainian groups are collecting aid to send to war-torn families and soldiers fighting the Russian invasion.
Town officials and activists raised the Ukrainian flag over Hempstead Town Hall Wednesday morning and sang the Ukrainian national anthem as they pledged support for the country and called on the world to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The town has raised the flag over Town Hall for the past decade to recognize Ukrainian Americans and the relationship with the country as an ally.
"What has taken place in the last week gives more reason for this ceremony today," Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said. "The horrific aggression of Russia, invading and killing thousands of innocents is something we as America’s largest township come to unify and say we are disgusted, we are outraged. We stand here to show unity with our Ukrainian friends for what they deserve: freedom and protection."
The Uniondale-based Ukrainian Americans of Long Island and the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America joined Hempstead officials to collect humanitarian aid for residents in Ukraine in need of home essentials. Organizers with St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Parish Center on Uniondale Avenue are accepting donations of clothing, toiletries, medical supplies, diapers and baby food to send overseas.
"We, as a society as a whole, need to do the right thing and step up and help these people," Clavin said.
Oleh Dekajlo, president of the Long Island chapter of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, said the organization represents 1.5 million Americans of Ukrainian descent and 30 national Ukrainian organizations.
"Today, as we stand here, few people will confuse Russia and Ukraine," Dekajlo said.
He said the world underestimated the fight of the Ukrainian forces to defend the country. He said despite little support from NATO, the country has the heart and soul to keep fighting.
"Vastly outmatched by Russia’s military in sheer numbers and firepower, Ukraine’s own Air Force is still flying and its defenses are still viable, baffling military experts," he said. "Putin thought he could roll into and over Ukraine unopposed, and, boy, was he wrong."
Organizers also have launched fundraising efforts and a GoFundMe account to support Ukrainian troops and families during the war, including to help buy military supplies and equipment.
"Let everyone know the world is watching, that we care and support justice," Dekajlo said. "Help us save the lives of soldiers and innocent victims of a bloodthirsty madman. Please help us save Ukraine."