By Caroline Gordon
FRAMINGHAM – Looking to help Ukrainian orphans, Sasha Grebenyuk and the Jookender Community Initiatives hosted a food and clothing drive in Framingham on Saturday night.
Grebenyuk has many ties to the Ukraine. Both herself, her husband, and parents were born in the Ukraine.
Jookender is a non-profit organization that offers teen programming by strengthening the bond between teens and families in order to promote volunteer work. The majority of members are first generation immigrant secular Jewish families. The organization is located in Framingham at 650 Worcester Road, Suite 102.
Grebenyuk, who is the executive director of Jookender, said she chose to start the fundraiser because many Jookender members have a relationship to the Ukraine.
“It’s [the war] is an absolute tragedy. We want to help in any way we can,” she said.
Jookender received help from residents from numerous communities include Framingham & Natick. Jewish foundations and companies like Fidelity Investments also provided donations, she added.
Ukrainian orphans are unable to be adopted as they already have parents, who had to make the agonizing choice to surrender them to the orphanages because they can’t provide for their children now, explained Grebenyuk.
Other children at the orphanage have been separated from their parents due to the war.
Volunteers on Saturday packaged up donations to be sent to that orphanage.
Anastasia Bergman, who serves on the Jookender Board, said the donations for the Ukrainian orphans are not just the necessities, but also items that will “make them feel like children.”
“We want them to know they are supported by their friends from the United States,” she said.
“Together, we’ve collected 3,459 (pounds of donations), and sent 85 packages. They have already been picked up and processed by the mail carrier. The shipping & handling cost was $9,250,” said Grebenyuk to SOURCE.
Jookender is still accepting donations to the Ukraine. The Framingham-based organization is also accepting financial donations to help pay for the shipping costs.
To donate visit:
Caroline Gordon, a spring 2021 SOURCE intern is a senior English major with a concentration in journalism at Framingham State University. Gordon is the Arts and Features editor for Framingham State’s student newspaper, The Gatepost. Connect with Caroline on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/caroline-gordon98
Photos by Caroline Gordon