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Teaming up to support children misplaced by war in Ukraine

Olha Loza was heartbroken hearing about the influx of kids being brought into orphanages because of the war in her native country, Ukraine.

Ms. Loza, founder of East End-based home organizing company Organizing the Hamptons, decided to use her contacts from both Ukraine and on the North Fork to help a charity in Lviv, Ukraine, which provides services for orphans in Ukraine. According to savethechildren.net, 1.3% of the total 7.5 million children in Ukraine are living in some form of residential care facility.

The charity, Ridni, provides programs, support, psychologists and specialists to the orphanages, Ms. Loza said. 

The charity’s goal is “to make sure that adoption processes go as seamlessly as possible, that the kids are safe and healthy, not only physically but mentally as well,” she said.

Organizing the Hamptons partnered with Twin Fork Beer Co. in Riverhead to hold a fundraiser event in support of Ridni. It will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 25, and patrons will pay $10 at the door.

The event will feature live music from Jay Shephard and authentic Ukranian food, craft beer and wine. All money collected at the door and from the purchase of the Ukranian food will be donated to Ridni, according to a flyer promoting the event. The brewery will also donate $1 from each pint of craft beer and wine sold at the event, according to Twin Fork general manager Savannah Kurz.

“As much as it might seem out of reach, that Ukraine is very far away at the moment, but at the end of the day, it affects everybody,” Ms. Kurz said. “We have plenty of people of Ukrainian background that live out here and are also feeling the struggles … so just to be able to give back to the community, no matter who it is, I think we would hope that someone would do the same for us at the end of the day,” she said.

Ms. Loza spoke with Ridni and was amazed at all the work the organization is doing.

“They told me since the war started … they’ve been bringing in orphans from red zones, and also, they’re sheltering mother and children, refugees from eastern Ukraine, they’re also making sure all the orphanages have what they need,” she said. “So, I thought what better organization to help than them … that’s why Ridni is just a great organization because they’re taking care of a bunch of orphanages, it just made more sense.”

They also organized an Amazon wishlist of items that Ridni is asking for specifically. It Includes items like sleeping bags, air mattresses, camping stoves, tablets for filtering water and more.

The items collected will be shipped to a small business in Poland near the border. Ms. Loza’s classmates and friends there will pick up the packages and deliver them directly to Ridni, she said.

Ms. Loza said she is grateful for all the support she has seen and received toward Ukraine.

“I can’t express how amazing everybody’s been,” she said. “Everybody gets together, and they help support Ukraine in every way that they can with donations and volunteering, and even just, you know, thoughts and prayers, it is unprecedented … it’s so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.”