RICHMOND, Va. -- After five weeks of fighting, the war in Ukraine continues to rage on with Russian forces moving to the south and east of the country. Despite the advancements by Ukrainian forces, Richmond faith leaders are continuing to work to help the millions of people who have fled their homes.
Monday afternoon, several members of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond (JCFR) will head to Poland and the Ukraine border to donate hundreds of pounds of over-the-counter medical supplies gathered by the Richmond community.
"We've collected well over the three duffel bags that we're supposed to take with us, and I hope we'll be able to fill more and take them with us right on the plane," explained Sara Rosenbaum, JCFR Chief Impact Officer.
In addition to medication, JCFR has raised more than $270,000 over the past month to send back to their organizations on the ground helping Ukrainian refugees.
"Women and children are coming across the border, and many are choosing to stay in the bordering countries because they hope to go back," said Rosenbaum. "Their lives are there, and they want to return. So we're going now to support them in this holding pattern that they're in."
During the group's 36-hour visit to Poland, Rosenbaum said they will be visiting with refugees, and they'll also hear from the Israeli ambassador to Poland, Chief Rabbi of Poland and bear witness.
Rosenbaum adds her group has already started preparing for the day the United States welcomes Ukrainian refugees.
"Our partners here, Jewish Family Services and the Federation, are already making preparations to welcome refugees who may come to this area too," said Rosenbaum. "But right now, it's to go to support the the people on the ground who are in harm's way."
JCFR will be documenting the group's journey through a reflector blog and taking videos and photos to share when they return to Richmond.
"We're passionate about people all over the world, and people who are like us and who aren't like us," Rosenbaum noted. "But also, as a Jewish community, we know it's happened to us before and whether those in Ukraine are Jewish or non-Jewish, we want to want to show them the love and support that they deserve."
This is the fourth group among the Jewish Federation of North America traveling to Eastern Europe for relief efforts so far.