Looking into the Donation Boxes for Ukraine

Senior Charlize Trostinsky organizes donation boxes at Stuyvesant to support Ukrainian refugees.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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By Hepzibah Srithas

An ongoing refugee crisis began in February following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with United Nations estimates reporting that over 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced. Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis has prompted waves of foreign assistance, both in the form of immediate aid and through the donation of resources like food, water, and hygiene products. In light of the military conflict, senior Charlize Trostinsky organized collection boxes to gather donations from the Stuyvesant community. The donation boxes were located near Stuyvesant’s second-floor entrance, and all donations will be shipped directly to a relief organization in Ukraine.

As an Ukranian-American, Trostinsky expresses the extent to which her identity inspired her to organize aid for the civilians displaced by the ongoing invasion. “My mother is from Ukraine, and I have family spread across Eastern Europe, in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia,” Trostinsky said in an e-mail interview. “In the last couple of weeks, seeing my own family attempting to flee, [...] I knew that that could’ve been me as a refugee in Ukraine had my mother and father not left, so I feel like I had to take it upon myself to make sure people became more aware of this issue and donate anything they [can] because these people really need it right now.”

Inspired by the passion behind donation projects across the world, Trostinsky brought a similar initiative to Stuyvesant. “I was inspired by the passion from projects across the world […] mak[ing] sure that Ukrainian refugees feel heard and have everything they need,” Trostinsky said.

Trotskinsky shared that she reached out to organizations transporting donations to Ukraine to set up some form of assistance. “[My mother] has a friend who came from Ukraine two to three years ago. She has a little sister who was in university in Ukraine and had to flee to Poland, so she knew of organizations sending out items and donations,” Trostinsky said. “I talked to her about it and she put me in contact with these organizations, and I felt inspired by seeing […] all the other Slavic people rallying on social media and doing everything they can to help.”

Meanwhile, at Stuyvesant, Trostinsky contacted social studies teacher David Hanna as a faculty point person to help her implement the initiative. The pair reached out to the administration for additional assistance, garnering the support of Assistant Principal of Security, Health, and Physical Education Brian Moran, who supplied the collection boxes, and Director of Family Engagement Dina Ingram, who publicized the initiative in her weekly newsletter. “Charlize’s mother has a contact in the Ukrainian community here in New York, and they were collecting items for shipment to aid refugees fleeing the fighting in Ukraine,” Hanna said. “I knew she was Ukrainian-Belarusian. We were both thinking the same thing and e-mailed each other about it on the same day.”

Currently, donatations from Stuyvesant are being shipped directly to Ukraine through the South Brooklyn-based organization Ukraine & Ukrainians Abroad. “A huge warehouse—called helpukrainenyc—was rented out to package things and get [them] ready for shipment,” Trostinsky said. “The organization takes care of it, so the supplies will be going straight to Ukraine.”

Trostinsky encourages students to make any donation possible, expressing that every donation helps during the ongoing crisis. “People would come in and throw a toothpaste in there, and I was always happy to see that. Any little thing is super helpful—you don’t need to bring in boxes and boxes of gauze and band-aids,” Trostinsky said. “They’re really limited on resources right now […] and I just imagine that whoever receives that kind of item would really really appreciate it because of the situation they’re in right now.”

Though all donations are welcome, Trostinsky expresses that certain donation items are being prioritized due to constraints on plane capacity. “They were asking for medical supplies, like band-aids, first-aid kits, painkillers, anything like that, as well as sleeping bags, and just a lot of warm socks. [We] don't take clothing right now because of limited space on planes […] but stuff like socks are really needed because it’s really cold over there,” Trostinsky said. “They’re also in dire need, right now, of baby formula, diapers, and things like that because they don't have anything over there.”

Hanna expressed that he’s reached out to both current and former students to spread awareness about the donation boxes. He also emphasized that there are a multitude of ways for Stuyvesant students to help Ukrainian refugees beyond donating, such as through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees club (UNHCR). “The UNHCR is coordinating relief efforts; […] finding out what their needs are would be a way for the Stuy community to continue helping. The club is student-run, so therefore the impetus for this would have to come from the students themselves,” he said.

Moving forward, Trostinsky is exploring fundraising possibilities to raise as many donations as possible. “I spoke with the administration and I was going to talk to Assistant Principal of Organization Dr. Gary Haber next week about some sort of fundraiser to get monetary donations to send; […] other students also wanted to help work on some sort of fundraising effort,” Trostinsky said.

Fundraising possibilities are still in the planning stage, however, due to DOE limitations. “As per Chancellor’s regulations, bake sales and other ways of collecting funds for charitable organizations are prohibited,” Dr. Haber said in an e-mail interview. “I am meeting with Charlize to discuss possibilities.”

As the crisis in Ukraine continues to unfold, Trostinsky encourages the Stuyvesant community to remain informed by keeping up with new developments. She emphasizes the importance of continuing to support those affected by the conflict. “They really need [supplies] at this time […] and I’m really glad people took notice of this and donated. [...] I thought that it was very successful. We got like three huge boxes of supplies,” Trostinsky said. “I really hope that people continue to make sure that they stay informed […] and continue supporting all the Eastern European[s] in America, because it’s very difficult for most of us, and we just want our family and friends and anyone from that region to be safe.”