Columbus woman gathering supplies to send to refugees fleeing Ukraine

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – For more than 20 years, a Columbus woman has run an organization that sends aid to those in need in Ukraine.

Now she is working to send supplies to refugees fleeing the country in the midst of Russia’s attacks.

“When the bombing started, people started evacuating,” says Kathy Cadden. “And people couldn’t get money out of the banks to buy gas or to buy food while traveling to Poland.”

It is the plight that thousands of Ukrainian refugees face as they try to flee the violence spreading throughout their country. Cadden is trying to help as much as she can from Columbus, Mississippi.

“We now have a warehouse in Poland to receive aid and the two containers that are going there,” Cadden says. “One was a medical container. One was a clothing container.”

Cadden founded Operation Ukraine after a relative told her about the poverty she had witnessed first-hand as a missionary.

“We have 22 years of working in Ukraine,” she says. “We get lists from the hospitals of what they need, from the Veterans Hospital group and from orphanages.”

Charita Shteynberg of World of Connections grew up in Ukraine and still has family there.

“We’re supplying food for refugees that cannot eat, we’re supplying underwear and socks for children that passed over the Polish border and could not take their fathers and brothers with them,” she says.

She is helping Cadden’s group and others like it send their donations to those fleeing her home country and seeking refuge in Poland.

“I think the numbers that are being announced on the TVs right now are a little bit understated,” Shteynberg says. “I believe it’s close to a million that are on the border right now, either across the border or still on the border.”

Cadden is putting together what she calls family buckets and hygiene packs to send to refugees in Poland. They include items like silverware, towels, soap, disinfectants, matches and emergency candles.

“It’s going to be a long-term effort,” Cadden says. “Because buildings and hospitals and homes have been bombed. So even if the war ended today, it’s going to take a lot of aid to get people back, even if the war stopped today.”

Cadden and Shteynberg say their organizations are working to hire cargo planes to carry their donations.

Cadden says she hopes to pack up 60 family buckets and 100 hygiene packs Saturday at Steens Church of Christ at 1 p.m. and volunteers are welcome.

For information on how to donate, call Cadden (662-549-2416) or contact World of Connections.

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