An Interview with Ridgefield Responds – Making a Difference in Ukraine 🇺🇦

Ridgefield Responds team members Annetta Hewko, Julia Voytovych, Ross Voytovyhc, and young supporters in front of Town Hall.

Imagine losing power for months at a time, not having clean water to drink, and lacking the basic necessities of daily life. Imagine losing all of your precious possessions – and even your home – in a bomb strike.

These are the heartbreaking challenges that the people of Ukraine face every day.

Rather than feel helpless, there is something we can all do right now to make a huge impact! We spoke with Annetta Hewko, Chair of Ridgefield Responds: Hope for Ukraine, to learn about their current donation drive for our Sister City and how we can help. (Please note: Donation Drive has been extended through Saturday, July 1st!)

How will your Spring Donation Drive help Ukrainians in need?

We mobilized this donation drive to provide vital supplies and humanitarian aid to people in Ridgefield’s Sister City, Druzhkivka, in the besieged eastern region of Donetsk. Much of the city’s infrastructure has been destroyed by the war. One third of the schools in the city were demolished, only two of their four hospitals are still functioning, and only half the population is remaining in the city. It’s a dire situation and we hope to make a difference in their lives by delivering essential supplies and aid.

What is the best way for our community to help?

Supplies are desperately needed! Anyone from our community can donate money or donate items from the needs list.

We have arranged for a large shipping container to be sent to Druzhkivka and we’ll be collecting donations through July 1st. We’re focusing on the most vital supplies such as medical supplies, school supplies, supplies and equipment for emergency response, lighting, tools, and computer equipment. And we’re also reaching out to the business community to request donations of retired medical and computer equipment. Even donations of outdated devices are greatly appreciated, as they can be refurbished or dismantled for parts. The resilience and ingenuity of the Ukrainian people is remarkable.


“This is more than just a symbolic gesture! There are meaningful and real connections between our Sister Cities. And those connections are directly improving the quality of daily life for the people of Druzhkivka.”


How can people donate supplies?

We’ve made it very easy for people to donate items. Just bring donations of supplies to our Collection Center at the Ridgefield Recycling Center from now through July 1st, Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 3 pm. (Please note the donation drive has been extended through Saturday, July 1st!) We have volunteers there waiting to assist! To make a financial contribution, please visit our website: www.ridgefieldresponds.org.

What are the most needed supplies?

To name a few:

  • Tools – to help with search and rescue and clean up of rubble and debris
  • Medical equipment and supplies – since medical facilities have been devastated and injuries have escalated
  • Generators – to support life without necessary infrastructure
  • Flashlights and camping stoves – to help families with daily necessities
  • School supplies including tablets – for the children who are all learning remotely since their school buildings have been demolished by bombing

Here is our flyer listing the most critically needed items: Download flyer here

First Selectman Rudy Marconi cutting the ribbon on opening day at the Collection Center.
Dr. Doty shared messages of encouragement on the medical equipment he donated.

How can people make monetary donations?

Monetary donations will go directly toward on the ground relief efforts in Druzhkivka. For example, specialized equipment for potable water filtration and for community electric charging stations will be purchased by the city of Druzhkivka with the funds we are providing through donations.

Donate here

What is the “on the ground” operation in Ukraine to deliver supplies?

We will be shipping the large container full of Ridgefield’s donations to Ukraine in late June and it will arrive in mid-August. Our trusted partner, Ukraine Aid International, which was founded by a Westport resident, will manage the on-the-ground logistics for delivery to Druzhkivka. They will provide hand-to-hand delivery to ensure that all the supplies will be delivered safely and efficiently, right to the people who need them!

An initiative earlier this spring distributed seed packets to plant vegetable gardens.
Ridgefield Responds: Hope for Ukraine participates in a community event on Main Street.

Any other ways that we can help?

Yes! We encourage everyone to share the Spring Donation Drive information with their friends and family. You can follow us on social media and share our website on your social media to help get the word out. All the information about the Spring Donation Drive is right on our homepage.

Website: ridgefieldresponds.org
Instagram: @ridgefieldresponds
Facebook: @ridgefieldresponds

And we also need volunteers at the Collection Center to collect and sort donated items. Any amount of time people can volunteer is greatly appreciated! Volunteers can sign up here

What are some examples of how the community has stepped up to help?

We’ve had an overwhelming response from the community. A recent example, Dr. Patrick Doty donated medical and computer equipment – and the walkers and crutches were personalized with messages of encouragement! Ridgefield’s school system has donated 50 laptops that were being retired. The Town of Ridgefield presented 33 gently used tires. And numerous residents have bought in flashlights, generators, sleeping bags, blankets, and other personal items. As our message reaches more people and we reach out directly to schools, businesses, and medical offices, our Collection Center is starting to fill up with supplies, reflecting the kindness and support of this community.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I want to thank the Ridgefield community for their generosity with this donation drive and with our previous initiatives as well! And much appreciation goes to First Selectman Rudy Marconi and our town officials for their compassionate leadership and unwavering dedication to Ridgefield Responds.

Thanks to the generosity of the Ridgefield community, $110,000 has already been raised by Ridgefield Responds: Hope for Ukraine. This funding has been instrumental in getting resources on the ground – right to the families who need them so desperately.

“It’s heartwarming to witness the generosity of this caring community and the positive impact this is having on the people of Druzhkivka, Ukraine.“


About Ridgefield Responds

Ridgefield Responds is a town-wide mobilization effort to support disasters locally and abroad, operating under the auspices of the Friends of Ridgefield Community Programs, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization formed by the Town of Ridgefield, CT. Ridgefield Responds was established after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to support the New Orleans community. It then organized again to support the humanitarian crises following the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In 2020, following the COVID-19 outbreak, the organization launched a Rent Assistance Program to help Ridgefield residents who were financially impacted by the pandemic and needed help with residential rental payments. Ridgefield Responds is now re-mobilizing to provide humanitarian help and hope in the devastating situation in Ukraine.

Ridgefield Responds

Learn more

Website: ridgefieldresponds.org
Instagram: @ridgefieldresponds
Facebook: @ridgefieldresponds