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72-hour emergency fundraiser to help Kharkiv heads into final hours

72-hour emergency fundraiser to help Kharkiv heads into final hours (Olga Shpak/CBS Newspath)
72-hour emergency fundraiser to help Kharkiv heads into final hours (Olga Shpak/CBS Newspath)
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CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A 72-hour fundraiser to provide help for the people of Kharkiv is heading into its final hours.

The goal is to reach $250,000 Monday, by midnight.

The Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Partnership (CKSCP) announced it is teaming up with the Mission to Ukraine to supply urgently needed supplies for Kharkiv -- Cincinnati’s sister city in Ukraine.

Mission to Ukraine is a boots-on-the-ground humanitarian aid initiative run by two best friends in Eastern Europe.

Mark Kreynovich is from Kharkiv, Ukraine and Dillon Carroll is from Ridgewood, New Jersey. They met their freshman year of college.

The young men spoke with Local 12 on a video call from the Ukraine-Polish border Monday morning.

“I don't know, we couldn't sit still. It felt a bit odd knowing my friends and my parents' friends were fighting and volunteering to help people there, and we were both sitting pretty in a NYC apartment of whatnot. Had to do something,” Kreynovich said.

On March 3, the best friend duo dropped everything and flew to Eastern Europe to help Ukraine.

They arrived less than 10 days after Russia invaded Ukraine and launched its assaults.

“Citizens helping citizens is really what it is,” Kreynovich said.

It may sound humble, but the work these two have already accomplished is incredible.

Their initial goal was to raise $5,000. They started getting critically needed supplies into Ukraine from the Polish border within the first two days.

“Mark and I have been in contact with people within Ukraine and in the city of Kharkiv. We've been connected with one of the largest hospitals,” Carroll said. “One of the requests that the medial professionals and doctors there have had is for protective equipment, and for flack jackets to protect them while they are in the field taking on Russian fire, but helping wounded civilians in the city on top of that. We are also fulfilling a specific list issued by the city of Kharkiv for specific amounts and types of medications and medical equipment for these professionals themselves.”

“They desperately need our help. We are the only city in all North America that is Kharkiv’s sister city. Kharkiv is counting on Cincinnatians. Every minute counts,” said Bob Herring, president of the CKSCP. “What can we do from here? We can raise some money. We can get the funding over there so that people on the ground can purchase the medication needed, supplies that are needed, the protective equipment needed for the doctors and medics that are really taking care of the people in Kharkiv and surrounding areas.”

Well-known Cincinnati philanthropists John and Francie Pepper donated $50,000 to the fundraiser.

“We did feel called to help,” Francie said. “Once we put this partnership together between the boys on the ground and the Kharkiv sister city's project, we decided that we would put in that first donation that would be a match to get people started.”

“If we can do something to reduce the pain, to help people who have been injured, to get lights on where it's dark, that's what we're doing,” said John.

So far, about $201,000 of the $250,000 goal has been raised.

Organizers say the links will be open even after midnight, and they hope to double their original goal and reach $500,000.

“Mark and I have seen the situation on the ground, the question is why not shoot for the moon? Why not shoot for something that we can truly make an incredible impact, a huge impact on people’s lives correctly?” Carroll said. “Ultimately, what I would say to the people of Cincinnati is to look around you -- to look at your colleagues, look at your family, look at your neighbors and imagine to have to suddenly leave everything in your life, and to go somewhere where you don't speak their language, and you're not familiar with your surroundings, and the inherent heartache and confusion, and emotions that might bring to your heart, and the donations you're able to make, and the help that you're able to provide that's going to directly impact people that we meet, that we see, that we speak with in Ukraine and that cross the border as refugees.”

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