UPDATE: Jookender Community Initiatives collects food and clothes for Ukrainian orphans

Band Caroline Gordon

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FRAMINGHAM – Seeking to help Ukrainian orphans, Sasha Grebenyuk and Jookender Community Initiatives held a food and clothing drive in Framingham on Saturday evening.

Grebenyuk has many ties to Ukraine. She, her husband and her parents were born in Ukraine.

Jookender is a non-profit organization that provides teen programming by strengthening the bond between teens and families to promote volunteer work. The majority of members are first generation secular Jewish immigrant families. The organization is located in Framingham at 650 Worcester Road, Suite 102.

Grebenyuk, who is the executive director of Jookender, said she chose to start the fundraiser because many Jookender members have a relationship with Ukraine.

“His [the war] is an absolute tragedy. We want to help in any way we can,” she said.

Jookender received help from residents of many communities, including Framingham & Natick. Jewish foundations and companies like Fidelity Investments have also made donations, she added.

Ukrainian orphans cannot be adopted because they already have parents, who had to make the agonizing choice of handing them over to orphanages because they can no longer provide for their children, Grebenyuk said.

Other children in the orphanage were separated from their parents because of the war.

On Saturday, the volunteers packed the donations to send to this orphanage.

Anastasia Bergman, who sits on Jookender’s board of directors, said donations for Ukrainian orphans are not just necessities, but also items that “will make them feel like children.”

“We want them to know that they are supported by their friends in the United States,” she said.

“Together we collected 3,459 (donation books) and sent 85 parcels. They have already been picked up and processed by the postman. Shipping and handling charges were $9,250,” Grebenyuk told SOURCE.

Jookender is still accepting donations to Ukraine. The Framingham-based organization is also accepting financial donations to help pay for shipping costs.

To donate, visit:
https://www.jookender.org/waystogive/make-donation.html

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Caroline Gordon, Spring 2021 SOURCE intern, is an English major with a concentration in Journalism at Framingham State University. Gordon is the Arts and Features editor of Framingham State’s student newspaper, The Gatepost. Connect with Caroline on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/caroline-gordon98

Photos by Caroline Gordon

Elizabeth J. Harless