Photos provided for publication courtesy of Viktoria Magid, with permission of Vladislav, Irina and Dimitri.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Native Ukrainian Viktoriya Magid, Ph.D, a Mount Pleasant psychologist, has been involved for the last three weeks with several Charlestonians who feel the injustice and the urgent need to help people in Ukraine who are fighting for sovereignty and freedom. 

Ukrainians overseas have been uplifted by the continued support from Charlestonians during the ongoing Russian invasion. Here are some of the stories of local people and organizers who have given what they could to support Ukrainians in need as well as some accounts from the Ukrainians who have felt that support. 

A few of the many helpers

Drew Friedman is the son of Donna and Randy Friedman, a local family who have supported humanitarian and defense efforts in Ukraine. Last week, Drew organized his fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta at the University of Wisconsin. Their donations helped buy a large box of medicine which will be distributed to the occupied city of Kherson. 

“We were so inspired by the courage and unity shown by the people of Ukraine,” Drew Friedman said. “Their unwillingness to back down from oppression, their relentless fight to protect their home convey a powerful message.”

Euro Foods owners Maka Aptsiauri and Aleksandr Pavlichenko with West Ashley Connect volunteers Oleg Kulik and Anna Span

In West Ashley, Euro Foods Bakery and Café, with its owners Maka Aptsiauri and her husband Aleksandr Pavlichenko, have been active in supporting Ukraine from the beginning of the crisis.

“So many of my relatives are in Ukraine,” Pavlichenko said. “Many have helped their wives and children get out, and then returned to fight.” Pavlichenko’s uncle and cousins are fighting near Kiev, Bucha and Kharkiv.

“We are grateful to our amazing team,” Aptsiauri said. “The nonprofit organization West Ashley Connect with its president Teresa Tidestrom as well as volunteers Roman Pekar, Oleg Kulik and Anna Spann. With their help, as well as donations of many locals, we were able to organize a truck full of supplies and humanitarian aid to be delivered to Lviv by a plane.” 

  • Euro Foods will next be arranging donations of medical supplies. To help, phone (843) 303-4065. 

Water Mission of Charleston has launched direct  humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

“Our teams are expanding our assistance work at Ukraine borders in Poland and Romania, assisting refugees,” said Gregg Dinino, the director of public relations. “Among other efforts, the first wave of shipment includes four of our water treatment systems capable of providing daily water needs for 20,000 people. We are also sending 24,000 water purification packets and other supplies in the same shipment.”

  • Join the Water Mission Walk for Water in North Charleston on March 26 or donate in other ways at watermission.org.

James Island’s Baguette Magic Bakery has also announced a program called “Knishes for Kyiv.” These delicious potato pastries are a Ukrainian staple. All proceeds will be donated directly to Nova Ukraine’s humanitarian relief efforts. To date, the bakery has raised over $1,000. 

TastemakersCHS has also launched the CHS Restaurants for Ukraine campaign, inspired by Ukrainian Chef Ievgen Jlopotenko. He has converted his restaurant into a bomb shelter, and is working to feed the Ukrainian army and instruct Ukrainians about what can they can cook with the limited goods they have. 

Individual donors have included Jonathan DiOrio, a local entrepreneur who has contributed $1,500 towards the purchase of bulletproof vests for Ukrainian soldiers. 

“The Ukrainian people and their president epitomize courage — choosing the idea of freedom and paying in blood,” he said. “This sentiment is akin to our founding fathers and reminds me of my grandfather’s stories — who fought Hitler in World War II.” 

Jackie Scarafile and her husband Matt are local real estate agents who have provided $1,000 for the cause. 

“It’s so important to get funding to Ukraine immediately,” said. “It doesn’t matter where you stand politically. What is happening in Ukraine is wrong. This has to be stopped.”

MUSC professor, and psychologist Dr. Sudie Back and her husband Steve Caskie have donated to UNICEF, United Help Ukraine, Inc. — a nonprofit organization that provides food and medical supplies to those affected. They have also booked a stay in Kiev through Airbnb and told the owners they will not be visiting and to please keep the money. “It’s about freedom and democracy for all of us,” said Sudie. “If Ukraine loses we all lose.”

  • Go to unicef.org to donate and airbnb.com  to book a stay in Ukraine — profits go directly to the owners.

Who is being helped

(Note: Last names have been omitted to protect those quoted.)

In Ukraine, local efforts make a daily difference. With the help of Charleston’s DiOrio and others, a platoon of 11 soldiers under the command of a high school friend Dimitri was able to acquire bulletproof vests for each soldier at $650 apiece. 

In Kherson, currently occupied by the Russian troops, the humanitarian situation  is dire. A local volunteer, Irina has been working tirelessly to use foreign and local donations to purchase medications from the closed pharmacies and distribute them to the hospitals and crisis centers. 

“Today a few pharmacies were open,” she said. “But no one was willing to come out and work under this regime. We are completely cut off from any supply chains, and there are many folks with epilepsy, asthma, Parkinson’s (and) diabetes who need daily medicine.”  

Financial support from Charlestonians allowed Irina to purchase medicine from closed pharmacies and distribute it directly to those in need. 

Vladislav has served in the Ukrainian military for 13 years and earned the commendation “Hero of Ukraine.” He is currently fighting near Kharkiv, where shelling is nearly non-stop. Vladislov has been able to purchase food, personal hygiene supplies, socks and underwear, as well as 100 pieces of warm face coverings for his battalion. 

“Victory is ours!”, he said. “Thank you for your help, that was such a huge help! Every single penny went towards helping my battalion.” 

  • To help Dimitri, Irina and Vladislav directly, contact Viktoriya at drvmagid@gmail.com or send Venmo to @vmpsych.

Viktoriya Magid, Ph.D is a licensed psychologist specializing in addiction, anxiety, depression, life transitions and self actualization from her office in Mount Pleasant. 

Photos provided for publication courtesy of Viktoria Magid, with permission of Vladislav, Irina and Dimitri.


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