Have Faith: What can we do?

Members of St. Andrew’s Church initiate humanitarian efforts for Ukrainians.

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church helps to provide humanitarian relief for Ukraine. — Monica Busch

Between reading Catherine Walthers’ Edible Vineyard story on World Central Kitchen (bit.ly/evworldkitchen) and George Brennan’s story on “Covering the Russian Invasion of Ukraine” at last weekend’s Islanders Write (bit.ly/mvtlongwar), I’m convinced I don’t know as much as I should about the conflict in Ukraine. And I definitely am not doing enough to help. Whenever there is unrest, violence, death, fear, hatred anyplace, we could all be looking for a way to ease the suffering. Some of us just think about it, and others put their faith into action.

Andrea Bolling and the Rev. Cynthia Hubbard, along with a small group at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, are leading efforts behind Help Ukraine!, a small business campaign going around the Island to help support those impacted by the conflict in Ukraine. So far, Bolling says, there are approximately 60 Island businesses involved in Help Ukraine!

“Bryn Walker, Coastal Supply, and Leslie’s Pharmacy are some stores accepting donations in Vineyard Haven,” Bolling wrote to me in an email. “In Oak Bluffs, Slip Seventy Seven, Tangerine, Phillips Hardware, Island Outfitters, Ritz Café, and Dapper are a few of the businesses participating. Lily Pulitzer, Faherty, Botanical Beauty, VAALBARA Supply are Edgartown businesses supporting humanitarian efforts.”

Bolling explained that back in 2014, parishioners Margaret Moran, Christine White, and Pamela Monterosso helped raise awareness and funds for Ukrainians affected by the annexation of Crimea in February 2014. This newest fundraiser was initiated by Bolling after watching news reports of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on television.

“I watched the invasion on the news, made a donation to Save the Children, but as the invasion progressed, I knew it wasn’t enough,” Bolling explained. “I have a small craft business and was working on Christmas ornaments, and thought maybe I could make and sell items to raise funds. I shared the idea with family and members of our church, and through discussion, it evolved into the current form — donation jars at participating businesses, pins and pendants for sales staff and people who want to show their support for Ukraine, and cards with the names of charities and web addresses for online donating.”

I also watched the invasion of Ukraine on the news channels as it was happening, watching the devastation in horror and wondering how the U.S. could help without aiding in the start of another world war. I still have no answers. War causes the death of individuals on every side of the conflict who have parents, spouses, children, and friends who will mourn them. There is a ripple effect when these atrocities occur. Ukraine is one of the largest grain suppliers in the world, though it’s also one of the poorest countries, if not the poorest now, in Europe. What does this mean for the world’s grain supply? If we believe that war doesn’t have an impact larger than its geographical area, I think we would be wrong.

More than anything else, for some folks, this war speaks to their deepest convictions. Bolling explained it like this: “If you’ve ever been displaced, experienced temporary or permanent homelessness, joblessness, or had an experience where every aspect of your life was uprooted and you didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, then you would have a sense of what many of the refugees are experiencing. We had a chance to speak to a few refugees living in Poland, who confirmed the devastation is awful, worse than what we see in the media, and the need, greater than we know or can truly understand. Care for refugees and internally displaced people, whether fleeing violence or natural disaster, is a world issue.”

The Episcopal Church, she explained, always prays for peace and for nations torn apart by war.

“Attending to people in need is an important aspect of our walk with Christ,” Bolling wrote to me. “So providing humanitarian assistance for Ukraine is part of a larger ministry in the Episcopal Church. Our relief organization, Episcopal Relief and Development, provides assistance to Ukraine, and is one of the charities chosen by several of the Island businesses.”

Maybe one thing we can do is to visit our local businesses that support relief efforts in Ukraine. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s something.

If you want to find out how to help, reach out to Hubbard or Andrea Bolling by calling St. Andrew’s Church, 508-627-5330.