Cape May to Lutsk: One Community Helping Another Across the Globe

How Cape May locals are helping the people of Ukraine

As the Russian invasion grinds on in Ukraine, so many of us ask “How can we help?” and “How can we be sure that our gifts of money and donations reach their intended destination?”

In Cape May, a newly formed 501c3 Corporation, Cape May Shelters Lutsk, is helping to answer that question. It all started when Vesna Palifovra, a commercial lender at Crest Bank, told a few of her customers about her brother, Zoran Donchev, whose factory in Lutsk, Ukraine was bombed. Ever since, Zoran and other men in the city have been acting as “boots on the ground” to help keep families and orphans supplied with food and supplies.

Shirley Phinney, owner of Elaine’s, wrote Vesna a check for $10,000. Charity Clark from Cape Resorts Realty Group joined as a patron sponsor. Congress Hall and several others became platinum sponsors. A successful fundraiser was held in May.

Since then, over $50,000 has been delivered to Ukraine and another $20,000 is on the way. Pictures and videos showing trucks of food and children holding signs that read “Thank you, Cape May!” have found their way back here. An additional $1,000 was used to pay a ransom to a Russian soldier holding a Ukrainian couple captive. Cape May Shelters Lutsk is truly saving lives.

The nonprofit pays all its own marketing and expenses, meaning literally 100% of the money raised is wired from Crest Bank directly to Lutsk. Zoran and the men of Lutsk cross the border into Poland to purchase and bring back supplies, as most things are unavailable in Ukraine.

On September 4th, Vesna, Shirley, and Charity along with three others plan to leave for Warsaw with the goal of meeting trucks from Lutsk on the 5th to supply them for another distribution run. It is unknown if the border from Warsaw into Ukraine will be safe enough for the delegation to cross.  However, the men of Lutsk are committed to shepherding the trucks to where the need is greatest.  

“We are just three women who are busy running our companies here,” says Charity. “But the need is great, and we can see directly the faces of those who we have saved. We must help. They tell us just the fact that they know people care and are helping gives them hope and a purpose. We need to go there to give more, to give the widows the courage to leave and go to another country with their children and only the clothes on their backs.”

Charity continued, “In a closing scene of Schindler’s List, Oskar Schindler lamented that if had raised more money, he could have saved one more. Let us in Cape May save many more.”

For more information on how you can help, visit Cape May Shelters Lutsk, Ukraine. One County helping Another Stay Alive – Home | Facebook