The war in Ukraine has galvanized many people in Sammamish to find ways they can help.
Plateaupians for Peace, a nonprofit organization, has become a one-stop shop for Sammamish’s relief efforts, organizing everything from a donation drive for refugees to a peace vigil. They are now acting as a coordinator for other charities that Sammamish residents can donate to.
One of the main ways Plateaupians for Peace has helped Ukraine was by collecting donations from a list of requested items for Ukrainian refugees. The items included toiletries, clothes, candles, and non-perishable meals.
They started with a physical collection of donation items between Feb. 25 and March 6. Volunteers accepted donations at their houses. Haley Gudgin, president of Plateaupians for Peace, then drove around to each house to collect the donations.
The physical donations went to the Ukrainian packaging company MEERST, then were sent to Poland and distributed amongst Ukrainian refugees. After a week of collecting donations, MEERST became overwhelmed by the amount of donations, so Plateaupians for Peace switched to an Amazon wish list, which helped donors buy the specific items requested by the refugees and have them shipped directly, rather than risk buying items that might not be necessary or helpful. The list was open from March 6 to 11.
Every item on the list was bought, so now the organization has linked external charities on their website for people to directly donate money to Ukraine.
Plateaupians for Peace is encouraging people in the community to volunteer with them and emotionally support people who are currently being affected by the war, such as people who originate from or have family in Ukraine, Russia, Poland, or Moldova. People can show emotional support by showing up at peace vigils and listening to people speak about how the war has affected them.
“It is so important that we give them the space and time to talk without judgement or assumptions on what their views or feelings are. We have had feedback that just highlighting events supporting Ukraine have made people feel more accepted and that they are not forgotten,” said Gudgin.
Plateaupians for Peace held a peace vigil on Feb. 26 for those impacted by the war and anyone who wished to join.
Oleksandr Shyronosov and his family originally came from Ukraine. They moved to Canada and lived there for three years before moving to Sammamish a month ago.
At the vigil, Shyronosov said that he and his family are living in fear for their loved ones. His parents are currently in a bomb shelter, and he can only communicate with them over the phone for short amounts of time.
“Our parents, relatives, and friends are all there with this impossible, terrible situation,” Shyronosov said.
At the vigil, people lit candles in solidarity for Ukraine. It was an interfaith vigil, and many prayers were held for Ukrainian refugees and those who have been internally displaced.
“We really want to make sure that the community has a way to show that they care, a way that they can support other people,” Gudgin said.