HomeHome Page FeaturedWarmly welcoming Ukrainians

Warmly welcoming Ukrainians

Refugee children entertain the crowd with a song.
Brian Gralnick (left), Andre Krug
Andre Krug (third from right) with Rotary members (from left) Theresa Guldin, Abby Gilbert, Holly Lankin, Steve Gradess, Virginia Kotsourous and David Ehrenkrantz.
Refugee Dariya Kobetska plays the piano as children sing.
Victoria Faykin and two young refugees.
Andrew Krug, refugee Irina Melnik
Rotary’s Abby Gilbert, Andre Krug
Victoria Faykin and refugee children water the sunflower garden.

KleinLife, 10100 Jamison Ave., last week showcased its efforts to welcome young Ukrainian refugees and announced plans for future support of people fleeing their war-torn country.

Andre Krug, president and CEO of KleinLife, recalled leaving Ukraine 33 years ago as a refugee. He said KleinLife has sent donations of money and goods to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country earlier this year.

More than 100,000 Ukrainians have come to the United States since the February invasion. Some 3,000 have settled in the Northeast, with 10,000 to 12,000 more expected in the next six to seven months. A good number of the refugees are children.

“This is our time to shine,” Krug said.

KleinLife vice president Victoria Faykin proposed a camp for Ukrainian children.

“Consider it done,” Krug said.

Today, 50 kids, ages 5-14, are in the camp, with a couple of older siblings helping. There is a demand for more campers.

The camp has been a success, thanks to a fundraising appeal and donations of toys, books, food and arts and crafts. The camp includes robotics, swimming, gym time, theater shows and art therapy.

Now, KleinLife is beginning a Grow Hope campaign, with a goal to raise $750,000 to fund programs for the children and their mothers, including an after-school program, a 2023 summer camp, emergency food packages, medical and dental support, school admissions, work authorization and care work.

Brian Gralnick, director of grants and community service at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, presented a check for $65,000. In all, JFGP has raised $1.25 million for emergency relief in Ukraine.

The Rotary Club of Northeast Philadelphia Cheltenham Rockledge (Sunrisers) donated $4,000, thanks in part to help from JFGP and Rotary’s Gundaker Foundation.

Adult refugee Irina Melnik, in remarks translated by Krug, thanked KleinLife, Faykin and others for their support, especially of the youngsters.

“Children need to be children,” Melnik said.

The public is invited to make a donation to the Grow Hope campaign at KleinLife.org/growhope. ••

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