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Nursing homes spearhead donations for Ukraine

Photo by David Prenatt Pictured are just some of the donations piled up at Absolute Care of Westfield that will be sent to help the people of Ukraine.

“It’s outstanding how everyone has stepped up,” said Dawn Harsch, director of corporate communications for MVG Services. “In the last week, things have been flooding in.”

The “flood” that Harsch is referring to are donations that will be sent directly to the people of Ukraine through the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center in Buffalo.

MVG Services, based in Buffalo, encompasses three portfolios, Harsch said. These are the McGuire Group, Vestra Care and Absolut Care, which comprise 17 nursing homes throughout Chautauqua County, the Buffalo area and parts of Western New York. They are owned by Long Island businessman Edward Farbenblum .

The idea to collect tangible donations for the people of Ukraine was spearheaded by McGuire Group President Stephen Eaton-Mercurio, Harsch said. He reached out to the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center to coordinate the relief effort.

“It was mainly because some of our employees and some of our residents were wanting to help,” Harsch said.

Community drop-off centers were established at all 17 of the nursing homes. Employees had banners made, printed boxes and sent out a press release.

The area nursing homes were astounded at the speed with which the community reacted, Harsch said. “When one of our people was hanging the banner outside one of the locations, people were stopping to ask, ‘Where can I donate?'” Harsch said.

What started off as a steady flow of donations, “doubled and tripled in the last week” Harsch said.

She added, “People do want to give and they are going out of their way to give.”

For instance, 16 residents of the Asbury Point Nursing Home hand-knitted stuffed dolls and donated them. A couple from Findley Lake borrowed their daughter’s minivan to bring the donations to a drop-off center.

“And Autumn View Health Care Facility in Hamburg collected over 40 boxes of donated items,” she added.

Even though the company requested tangible donations, monetary donations were also accepted, either by check or the PayPal account listed on the culture center’s website.

“One organization donated $100,000,” Harsch said.

Harsch noted that Absolut Care of Westfield is donating a large quantity of medical items. An employee at Absolut said they are donating two pallets of medical supplies, including oxygen tubing, bandages, gloves, surgical masks and tracheostomy kits.

Harsch believes one of the reasons the response to the drive was so great is that people know the donated items will be going directly to people who need them. “It gives you satisfaction when you’re picking stuff out because you know someone needs it,” Harsch said. “It gets to the right place.”

Harsch said she and Amy McKnight, director of activities at Autumn View, had to work out a logistical plan to get all of the donations to Buffalo. There are nine locations in the Buffalo area from which donations will be collected first. After that, some of the maintenance men will drive trucks to pick up donations from facilities along the Southern Tier and the drivers will then go to the eastern section.

Once the goods are in Buffalo, McKnight and her team will sort the materials and pack them in boxes. After that, all of the donated goods will be taken to Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Cheektowaga because the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center cannot handle such an enormous amount of goods.

From there, the Cultural Center — which has been assisting people in Ukraine for many years — will transport the donations to assist the refugees in Poland, as well as the soldiers, Harsch said.

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