By Jessica Meditz
Citizens of the Ukraine continue to cross into Poland, fearing for their safety as Russian troops invade the Eastern European nation. In a show of support for the Ukrainian people, community leaders in Queens came together to help provide relief for refugees fleeing their homeland.
Tony Di Piazza, president of Federazione Italo-Americana Di Brooklyn and Queens in Glendale, partnered with New York City Councilman Robert Holden and Councilman James Gennaro this past weekend, to hold a supply drive for Ukrainian refugees.
The number of donations filled up two large trucks, which were loaded with essentials including tents, food, toiletries, clothing and medical supplies — to be shipped via air to Finland, then Warsaw, and eventually Rzeszow, a Polish city near the Ukrainian border.
Di Piazza said that the Associazione Culturale Italiana Di New York will cover the cost of the shipment and that the care package should arrive by the end of the week.
“In today’s age of real time news, it was disconcerting watching the images on television of the destruction of a beautiful country and the children. We could not stand idly by and do nothing,” Di Piazza said.
“We’re happy that we could, in a very small way, be helpful to the people of Ukraine,” he continued. “The fight goes on. We stand with the people of Ukraine, we stand with Poland, and we stand for humankind.”
New York City Councilman Francisco Moya, Councilwoman Vickie Paladino, Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers, Councilwoman Linda Lee, Councilwoman Nantasha Williams and Councilwoman Sandra Ung will also host drop-off sites throughout Queens in support of the effort.
Comm. Joseph Ficalora, ECS Globe Air, WAW Humanitarian Goods, Fucsia Fitzgerald Nissoli, Ficalora Family Foundation, the CHAZAQ Organization, Chaverim of Queens, New York Community Bank, Maspeth Federal Savings Bank, Cross Country Savings Bank, Webster Bank, Richmond County Savings Foundation, and Seka Moving Company were among twenty-five local sponsors who also participated in the drive.
“As citizens of the United States, we identify with the struggle for freedom and this attack by Putin,” Holden said.
“Every day, we see videos of women and children being targeted. So it’s important for us as legislators, and just people who love democracy, that we help out.”
Holden added that participants of the drive will continue to collect and ship more supplies to those in need.
Gennaro said the effort is “the least they can do” as citizens of New York.
“The least we can do is help out those that are in dire straits, or running across the border to Poland, welcoming them with open arms,” Gennaro said. “I’m very happy to be part of this initiative to make sure that we do the right thing by the people who are suffering so terribly… We wish much ill will upon Vladimir Putin. May his murderous rampage come to an end; may he come to an end.”