With a mother from Ukraine and a father from Russia, Valencia High School 11th-grader Katherine Poberezhskiy said she not only feels obligated as a Ukrainian descendant to help her people after Russia launched its invasion, but said she also has a moral responsibility as a human being to do something in a matter that has global effects.
The moment Russia attacked Ukraine, Katherine, 16, got the idea to collect important items for children who would be affected. She and other students in Valencia High’s UNICEF program (otherwise known as the United Nations Children’s Fund) connected with Meest-America, which provides humanitarian aid delivery service from the U.S. to Eastern Europe, to see what they could collect and how they could get it to the children there. The high school’s UNICEF program is now requesting items like baby formula, hygiene products and first aid that Meest will then send to Ukraine.
“Having relatives that live there definitely made me want to help,” Katherine said Thursday in an interview with The Signal. “But just seeing those images — I definitely had to help.”
This week, Katherine and the school’s other UNICEF members sent out flyers and took to the school’s TV airways, calling on students and staff to donate things like bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, saline eye drops, gloves and sanitary products to make a difference. Those at the high school can drop off goods before Wednesday to room 507. But others can help, too, Katherine said, by bringing the items to the front office or contacting the school’s UNICEF program on Instagram using the handle @valenciaunicef to arrange for some other type of delivery.
Katherine’s mom, Alina Poberezhskiy, told The Signal that what her daughter and the school’s other UNICEF members are doing is not only good for her people in Ukraine, but also good character-building skills that will help these teens grow into good, compassionate and worldly people.
“I think it’s great for kids,” Poberezhskiy said. “To be involved. It teaches them about current events, world events, about empathy and helping people in need.”
Katherine agrees and added that it’s doing this kind of work that made her join UNICEF in the first place.
“Our main mission is to help children in need and give back to the community,” Katherine said. “So, we’d love to be able to do that here.”