On Monday, Becky Kuzma and Kate Ridley didn't know each other. By Sunday, their respective concerns helped fill a 24-foot trailer with donated supplies to help the over 2 million Ukrainians who have fled their homeland after an invasion by Russia.

Kuzma, whose grandparents came to the United State from Ukraine, was inspired by the turnout for a candlelight vigil on March 4 and approached the Dove City Council.

"I went 'we can do more than this as a city.' I have project management experience. I can figure out the logistics of this if we get enough people who want to help," Kuzma told Seacoast Current.

"So I emailed the city council last Monday to see if we could organize something. I connected with Kate Ridley, and we organized the whole thing ourselves," Kuzma told Seacoast Current. "We reached out to anyone who could help, and it was a huge response from the (Greater Dover) Chamber of Commerce, the city council, and a number of local businesses as well."

Kuzma said Ridley came to the United States 10 years ago from Ukraine.

Packing item donated for Ukrainian refugees, medical equipment donations
Packing items donated for Ukrainian refugees (Jolana Miller, Townsquare Media), medical equipment donations (Margaret Joyce)
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"An enormous amount of supplies"

The city of Dover got the word out and put out collection areas at City Hall, Dover Public Library, and Dover Ice Arena, which quickly filled up. On Sunday morning, volunteers sorted through the donations for Windham based NuDay to package up and ship.

Kuzma said it would be difficult to put a number on the amount of items donated.

"It was an enormous amount of supplies. Over twenty sleeping bags, we've got fifty boxes of diapers, it was absolutely immense, the numbers of donations we got for Ukraine," Kuzma said. "Two things that were urgently needed were diapers and infant formula, and that's something we definitely got a lot of. The people of Dover reached out and captured everything that we needed."

Volunteers sorting through donations for Ukrainian refugees
Volunteers sorting through donations for Ukrainian refugees (Kameron Towle)
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Dover's Community Services Director John Storer and his exchange student from Ukraine, Liubov Shvaha
Dover's Community Services Director John Storer and his exchange student from Ukraine, Liubov Shvaha (Margaret Joyce)
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A Continuing Need

Kuzma, who works at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, said it was a "whirlwind" week pulling the collection together, but because there is an ongoing need to assist the refugees, she is looking other ways to continue helping.

"I'm really trying to figure out a way to do this at more of a sustainable pace where I can balance my full-time job and do it. I'm trying to figure out if anyone can help me with logistics or coordination and how we can get this to be more of a sustainable model in the future," Kuzma said.

Kuzma said she was especially thankful to the following groups for their assistance:

  • Harvey's Bakery for donating cookies
  • Dunkin' for donating bagels and donuts
  • The Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce for their help in advertising the event, coordinating, and donating their space to host this event.
  • The Dover City Council for their help in coordinating, advertising, and allowing us to establish collection sites
  • Jim Weiler from Coastal MI-box for donating a storage box for us to store donations
  • Wendy and Scott Drew from Custom Collectibles, who delivered all the collected donations to the NuDay Warehouse in Derry, NH using their 24' trailer, and helping with offloading at the NuDay Warehouse
  • Steve Morin from Jewell Instruments LLC for providing a van to transport to the Chamber of Commerce, donating moving boxes, and helping with sorting and packing
  • The Courville Community for donating folding tables and boxes
Volunteers sorting through donations for Ukrainian refugees
Volunteers sorting through donations for Ukrainian refugees (Kameron Towle)
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Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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