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RANDOLPH, NY (WNY News Now) – A local youth group has joined the Ukrainian War relief efforts by raising funds for life saving medical equipment.
Each year, children from four area churches attend Randolph Community VBS raise money for relief and aid projects. This year, the group donated to Lakewood resident Sally Naetzker Baer, who has been assisting in relief efforts since the war began.
“It came up in the meeting, what if we raised money for Ukraine? Because it’s a pressing issue, it’s something kids and families are gonna be familiar with and have learned about. And during the course of that meeting, I thought I know Sally through my work at St. Luke’s and it is an obvious connection,” explains Rev. Jessica Frederick, minister at Grace Episcopal Church in Randolph.
Kids, who range from preschoolers to to sixth grade, surpassed their original goal of $300 and eventually raised almost $1,200 to donate towards Naetzker Baer’s efforts. An anonymous donor then matched their funds, doubling the total.
Naetzker Baer dropped everything to help those suffering from the war. We met her back in March, when she rented a van and transported refugees from Ukraine to Poland.
“Even though I was just one person, in my mind, if I could bring one person out of Ukraine to safety, that would have been worth the effort,” says Naetzker Baer. “And having years of international experience, I felt pretty confident that I could do that, in a European country especially.”
Now, she has partnered with a U.S. based manufacturer, purchasing the kits for $23. So far, Baer has been able to deliver 500 to the front lines. This donation will help her provide even more.
“Now I only do tourniquets for the foreseeable future. Because I’ve learned what they can get a hold of. Ukranians can get a hold of many things in Europe, and tourniquets is not one of them. They’re very difficult to get, and they’re very expensive. Like 35-36 dollars,” explains Naetzker Baer.
In the end, those at the Vacation Bible School credit Naetzker Baer’s inspiration as the fuel for their success.
“Humans are storytelling creatures. So if you have a story that you can really connect with, and to take something that’s big and scary that’s on the news and then to bring it down here into Grace Church of Randolph, and to make it not just this big scary thing,” says Frederick.
Local efforts to assist Ukrainains will likely continue for many years. Naetzker Baer tells us that once the war is over, she will also help with rebuilding and recovery efforts in war-torn areas. She plans to return to Ukraine late next month for another supply run.
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