(May 24, 2022) – From teachers, to businesses, to private donors, several grassroots fundraising efforts have bolstered the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston’s more than $1 million campaign to support relief efforts in Ukraine since the war began.
This is part of the Jewish Federations of North America’s collective more than $60 million raised to provide direct and immediate aid. Funds go toward humanitarian assistance for refugees and workers on the ground.
Pilar Rivera, a 6th grade teacher at Memorial Middle School, created a ‘Coins for Ukraine’ fundraiser to teach her students about helping people in need. She called multiple organizations to find a partner and every organization turned her down because she was only able to bring cash donations–until she reached the Federation.
“I wanted to do this to teach my students that we should help out others in crisis, regardless of which side you stand on the issue. Since I teach social studies, we had discussed the crisis in Ukraine and they were very curious about it. Thank you for giving my students this opportunity,” Rivera said.
Together, Pilar’s students raised $1,470.
Several businesses and organizations also held specific fundraisers to contribute to the effort. Three Brothers Bakery sold yellow and blue cookies, Jewish Family Service’s Celebration Company continues to sell blue and yellow candles, and the Russian Cultural Center held several fundraisers.
The Cultural Center organized an art auction where 10 Russian artists donated 100% of the proceeds and held various concerts. One of those concerts in early March had members from the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Symphony who all have ties to Ukraine. The center said so many people wanted to support the cause that even if they were unable to attend the concert, they still purchased tickets.
“For us, it’s very important. It’s our homeland. I left Ukraine 32 years ago and [once the fighting began] immediately contacted my classmates and friends. For those from Russia, there’s anger and shame. Why do Ukrainians and Russians need to fight? It’s now been more than 80 days. It’s so horrible and I pray they are surviving and it doesn’t become World War 3,” Sofia Grinblat of the Russian Cultural Center told the Federation.
The Cultural Center is currently showing a Kremlin Theater of the Absurd exhibit where all the proceeds will be donated to Ukrainian humanitarian aid.
Several community members also requested that in honor of their B’nai Mitzvahs and birthdays that gifts be made to the Federation Ukraine fund.
For more information about the ongoing relief effort, visit houstonjewish.org/ukraine.