Queens lawmakers launch boroughwide donation drive to help Ukrainian refugees

Queens Ukraine
A person holds a sign with a QR code for donations during a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine outside the White House in Washington, U.S., March 6, 2022. (REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger)

In their efforts to provide aid for Ukrainian refugees, the Queens borough president’s office and Council members from the Queens Delegation, along with local organizations launched a boroughwide donation drive on Monday, March 7, to collect supplies for those who have fled to Poland to escape the ongoing Russian invasion.

The Queens borough president’s office is encouraging all Queens residents to consider donating in support of the “proud and courageous Ukrainian people who have inspired us all.” 

“In less than two weeks, Vladimir Putin’s vile and illegal invasion of Ukraine has already claimed thousands of lives and forced more than 1 million innocent families to flee their beloved homeland,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “Those who have remained in Ukraine are in desperate need of medical supplies, especially as the Russian government recklessly escalates its brutality against the local population.”

The borough president’s office is collecting first-aid kits, bandages, gauze, tourniquets and over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Donations will be accepted at Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Blvd. in Kew Gardens. Donations can be dropped off in a box located on the first floor of Borough Hall next to the security desk in the lobby, just inside the building’s main entrance on Queens Boulevard. The lobby is open 24 hours a day.

Items collected this week during the drive, launched with the help of Kevin Ly and Amanda Deebrah of Richards’ Queens General Assembly, will be delivered to the NYPD, which is conducting an identical donation drive at all 77 precincts through March 11. The Queens borough president’s office will continue to accept donations after March 11, with the goal of sharing collected items with a verified nonprofit organization working on the ground in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Councilmen James Gennaro and Robert Holden have teamed up with the Queens Delegation and local organizations to host a community donation drive.

Several lawmakers from the Queens Delegation — Council members Francisco Moya, Vickie Paladino, Selvena Brooks-Powers, Linda Lee, Nantasha Williams and Sandra Ung — will collect items at their district office.  

The Associazione Culturale Italiana Di New York will cover the cost of shipment to Rzeszow, a city in Poland located near the border of Ukraine. The Polish Consulate and President of Rzeszow, Konrad Fijołek, are helping to coordinate the final drop-off in Poland, ensuring donations will go directly to Ukrainian refugees. 

“I was deeply moved when I saw the atrocities taking place in Ukraine, and was compelled to help. It is an honor and a privilege to help organize this drive, which I hope will yield many useful donations for the people who have been displaced by this needless bloodshed,” Gennaro said. “This is a large-scale, joint effort that could not happen without the help of our many community partners.” 

As the invasion of Ukraine touches the world, Holden said he’s proud that his fellow New Yorkers of many diverse cultures in Queens are once again eager to help. 

“I thank all who donate these badly needed items and all who made this drive possible, including Comm. Tony Di Piazza, Comm. Joseph Ficalora, the Federazione Italo-Americana Di Brooklyn and Queens, the Associazione Culturale Italiana Di New York, my fellow elected officials and all the numerous organizations who have come together to show the world that we care about the people of Ukraine,” Holden said. 

There are a total of 25 sponsors for the drive assisting with logistics ranging from transport to outreach to financial assistance. 

The list of sponsors also includes the Federazione Italo-Americana Di Brooklyn and Queens, Comm. Tony Di Piazza, 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 County Savings Bank, Webster Bank, Richmond County Savings Foundation and Seka Moving Company.

In a joint statement, the Federazione Italo-Americana Di Brooklyn and Queens, Di Piazza and Ficalora said the events unfolding in Ukraine are of extreme concern to the Italian American community. 

“The events unfolding in Ukraine are of extreme concern to the Italian American community, and we cannot sit idle and continue watching the death and destruction,” the organizations said. “Our organizations for several decades have been generous for numerous causes, and we have come together once again to assist those in need. Comm. Tony Di Piazza and Comm. Joseph Ficalora are also proud to contribute a collective $100,000 to the cause. Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people, and we pray for peace in Eastern Europe.”

Having relatives who lived through the atrocities of the Korean War and were displaced as a result, Lee said watching the horror of history repeat itself is too close to bear. 

“I am proud to partner with Nantasha Williams and the Queens Delegation to help deliver some measure of comfort and relief to the people of Ukraine amidst this crisis. Thanks to Council members Gennaro and Holden’s leadership, we are sending a message loud and clear that the world will never be silent in the face of oppression and tyranny,” said Lee, co-chair of the Queens Delegation. 

According to Williams, too many refugee families face heartbreaking conditions, discrimination and homelessness during their journey.

“The decision to leave the life you know behind in the hopes of finding relief is an utterly difficult and painful one,” Williams said. 

As someone who knows what it’s like to be forced to flee their homeland to escape the ravages of war, Ung said she feels the pain of the over 1 million Ukrainians who have been forced to flee to Poland to escape Russian aggression. 

“I am urging residents across Queens to donate what they can to show the people of Ukraine they are not alone,” Ung said. 

Moya said he is honored to join his colleagues and the Queens Delegation to host the donation drives to help the people of Ukraine. 

“The world has endured a tremendous amount of suffering due to COVID and now as Ukrainians seek shelter away from the egregious situation happening in their home, anything we can do to bring solace to people in need is what New Yorkers are all about,” Moya said. 

Residents who wish to support the Queens Delegation’s efforts may donate canned food, clothing, children’s toys (without batteries), sealed pet food and toiletries. 

High-demand items include non-perishable food, clothes and footwear, thermal underwear, hygiene products, blankets, bedding, disposable tableware, first aid kits, tents, mattresses, sleeping bags, standalone lamps and candles.

The donation drive will run through next week, with the following dates, times and locations below: 

  • Council member Vickie PaladinoMarch 7-11, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (20-15 Francis Lewis Blvd. in Whitestone)
  • Council member Selvena Brooks-Powers – March 7-11, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (1931 Mott Ave., Suite 410 in Far Rockaway)
  • Council member Linda Lee – March 7-11, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  (73-03 Bell Blvd. in Oakland Gardens)
  • Council member Nantasha Williams – March 7-11, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  (122-05 Smith St. in Jamaica)
  • Council member Sandra Ung – March 7-11, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (135-27 38th Ave., Suite 388 in Flushing)
  • Council member James F. Gennaro and the CHAZAQ Organization – March 10, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (141-47 72 Ave. in Kew Gardens Hills)
  • Council member Francisco Moya – March 10, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  (106-01 Corona Ave. in Corona)
  • Council member Robert Holden and the Associazione Culturale Italiana Di New York – March 12-13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (66-31 Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood)