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West Hartford preschool teacher gathers supplies to donate to Ukraine

Emergency care packages will be boxed in Cromwell Saturday and distributed to hospitals in Ukraine.

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — As the war in Ukraine nears its third week, Connecticut's efforts to send help continue to grow. A West Hartford preschool teacher is gathering supplies at her home to send to mothers and children in Ukraine.

Yelena Pasternak created an Amazon wish list for items like baby blankets, diapers and portable cribs, and the items came flooding in.

She’s working with two other moms in Cromwell to put together emergency care packages. She said Cromwell resident Olena Stetskiv has relatives in Ukraine helping put this together and Danielle Libera Tencza offered up her dance studio to store items in. 

The group will send the items over to Poland and from there, volunteers will drive the supplies on trucks and buses into Ukraine to deliver to hospitals.

Just two weeks ago, the group in Cromwell sent a shipment of 300 boxes to help Ukrainian mothers; the items were gathered in just two days.

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Pasternak said the showing of support has been overwhelming, and she expects this shipment to be even larger.

It’s a cause close to Pasternak’s heart for more reasons than one. Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, Pasternak came to Connecticut in 1991. She still has family overseas.

"We were like, you know, 'this is so close to home, we need to do something,'" she said.

As a preschool teacher and mother of two boys, her life revolves around children. She was left thinking of the unimaginable situations Ukrainian mothers are in

RELATED: Nightclub in New Britain hosts fundraiser to support Ukraine

"Being a mama, just had a baby, in a place where you have to shift from the hospital, you have to go to the shelter, and you have to take care of your baby, what do you need? So I was like, 'I need to create some list, at least of some items,'" she said. "And because my son was a preemie, I knew there is such little things exist."

The group will be putting all the items in boxes in Cromwell this Saturday and shipping them out. Pasternak is thankful for all the support from the community.

"I know everybody is dealing with the thing: ‘how can I help? What can we do?’ Thank you everybody for just asking can we come in and help? Can we donate this? Everyone is helping," she said. "It doesn’t matter if you’re Ukrainian, it doesn’t matter what you speak. If someone is in need, we need to pitch in."

RELATED: Local medical supply donations for Ukrainians shipped overseas

Elisha Machado is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at emachado@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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