Donations fill Jacksonville warehouse for Ukrainian refugees

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An Arlington warehouse is filling up with donations set to be shipped to Ukraine and to also help refugees in Northeast Florida.

“Some people, they start crying just because they see the care from people they don’t even know,” Bogdan Bondarkenko, the lead pastor at Living Stream Church, said. “Especially for pregnant ladies who went through so much stress. Some of them with little babies.”

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Living Stream is the largest Slavic church in Jacksonville and includes both Ukrainian and Russian members. Bondarenko grew up in Ukraine.

“It’s very painful to see what is happening there right now,” he told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant. “Our message is the message of peace.”

The church is running a warehouse in Arlington where they are currently collecting donations, including everything from medical supplies to food and hygiene.

Some of those donations are being shipped to Savannah and loaded onto a boat to Poland.

Diana Shulyak, a church member, went to the war-torn country to visit some of the hardest-hit cities, like Kharkiv.

“It’s hard to truly understand that it’s really actually happening somewhere. But to see that fear, that loss in their faces is different.”

Shulyak gathered a list of needs overseas so that her church here in Jacksonville could help at the warehouse they opened about three weeks ago, but now the need has shifted to the States.

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Bondarenko said there are more than 150 refugees currently in Northeast Florida.

“We’re trying to help with lodging, with food, with clothes, with everything. Some of them came to the United States with one backpack. That’s all they have.”

He said many refugees are not getting financial help from the government, so they’re turning to Jacksonville for help.

You can visit www.lscjax.org for a list of supplies needed. They can be dropped off from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day but Sunday at 29 Arlington Road South.