Clubs Collaborate to Support Ukraine


Ms. Michelle Sorise

Making Space to Aid Ukraine—Students gather in the Media Center’s Makerspace to create donation tokens for the donation drive that will take place from March 21 to April 1. Monetary donations will be received by volunteers at the tables in the main lobby.

Ruisong Lan

On February 24, 2022, Ukraine was invaded and attacked by Russia. This devastating tragedy left many people in Ukraine starving and cold, while facing displacement and forced emigration. As a result, Ukraine Aid, a cooperative of clubs and activities seeking to help Ukraine, was created at Great Neck South High School.

Many students had concerns about what was happening in Ukraine and wanted a way for the school to help. Among these students was senior Elena Zhang, who was the first to propose the idea of Ukraine Aid.  “The idea mainly came from a desire to help by creating a humanitarian aid effort,” said Zhang. “Originally, I had wanted the yearbook club to sponsor some sort of fundraiser or donation drive for Ukraine.” Thus, Zhang checked with the administration, and in doing so, assistant principal Mr. John Duggan recommended that they talk to social studies teacher Ms. Michelle Sorise, as she has experience with organizing these types of fundraisers. Zhang and Ms. Sorise met up with all the clubs to work out the details of the Ukraine Aid committee. 

One of the ways that Ukraine Aid seeks to help Ukraine is through supply donations. Funded by the PTO, collection bins were placed in the main lobby for students to donate toiletries, clothes, and other essential items for those in need. The donation process was slightly bumpy. A miscommunication between the PTO and the Ukraine Aid committee occurred. By the time the committee knew that the supply donation was happening, they only had 48 hours to get the word out and sort through donations before a truck came to pick them up. “Donations came in at all hours of the day, and by the time one group finished organizing and counting, we would have more items to work through,” said senior Ericka Chen, one of the students who volunteered to sort the donations. “We didn’t have much time, so we had to work as efficiently as possible. When one task became too slow, we had to switch it up or assign different people. It was a bit messy at first, but we were able to eventually figure out a system that went smoothly.” Despite the initial difficulties, the Ukraine Aid committee was still able to collect a good amount of supplies for donation.

Supply donation is not the only way that the Ukraine Aid committee seeks to achieve its goal.  From Wednesday March 16 to Friday March 18, the Ukraine Aid Committee organized  an event that invited students to meet after school in the makerspace area to create donation tokens, such as bracelets, necklaces, and ribbons. The tokens were sunflower themed because sunflowers are the national flower of Ukraine. 

On March 21 to April 1, Ukraine Aid volunteers will run donation tables in the main lobby. Everyone who donates will receive a token of appreciation that was made either during the after school makerspace event or at home by students. Additionally, different clubs will offer different types of tokens. The money made from the donations will go to various organizations that seek to support Ukrainians. “So far, we’re looking to donate to World Central Kitchen,” said Ms. Sorise. “After all the funds from the monetary donations have been collected, the committee will reconvene and will reach a consensus on what are the best organizations to give the money to.”

Though Ukraine is still dealing with many struggles and hardships, the Ukraine Aid committee is trying their hardest to help support the nation. By encouraging students to take part in this cause, the Ukraine Aid committee makes progress towards a better tomorrow. “I hope that the experience Ukraine Aid offers to students teaches them the value of supporting those in need as a community,” said Ms. Sorise. “From this experience, we can learn how to collaborate with each other for an important cause and form a sense of togetherness that was lost during the pandemic.”