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Corvallis community is raising money and sending supplies to its sister city in Ukraine

Corvallis Sister Cities Association
Volunteers from Corvallis with connections to Ukraine have been crossing the border from Slovakia to hand-deliver relief items to Uzhhorod. These suitcases are full of medical supplies. The man in the blue shirt, Dr. Paul Kolesnyk, is a physician in Uzhhorod who has worked frequently with Sister Cities delegations in the past.

People in Corvallis are donating money and sending supplies to help their “sister city” in war-torn Ukraine.

Corvallis and Uzhhorod have been sister cities for more than 30 years. Uzhhorod is a city of about 100,000 in southwest Ukraine. Like Corvallis, it hosts a university and is located along a prominent river.

Uzhhorod is on Ukraine’s border with Slovakia and so far has been spared from direct attacks by Russia. But the area is the temporary home for tens of thousands of people who’ve fled the violence elsewhere in the country.

Alice Rampton of Corvallis has visited Uzhhorod more than two dozen times through the Sister Cities program and remains in contact with many people there. “Even though the city is welcoming these refugees, it’s still a strain on their own infrastructure," she said. “Every person we know in Uzhhorod is hosting a refugee. One person who has a large home has 30 refugees in their home. Another in a flat has 11 refugees.”

The Corvallis Sister Cities Association has raised more than $150,000 for things like medical supplies and basics such as food, bedding and hygiene supplies. The bulk of that money has come through donations being taken at all Citizens Bank branches in Oregon, but the organization has recently launched a GoFundMe page.

Some of that money has been wired directly to local organizations in Uzhhorod that the Sister Cities Association has worked with over the past three decades. In other cases, volunteers from the Corvallis area who have ties to Ukraine have traveled to the region to hand-deliver relief material. Sometimes, the volunteer travels to the border and arranges for someone local to make the delivery into Ukraine itself.

"We've sent over gauze and bandages," said Rampton. "We have a suitcase in our dining room ready to go with ten brand new stethoscopes from Samaritan Health Services, things from the Corvallis Fire Department. People have just been really generous."

Corvallis Sister Cities Association
This drawing by a Corvallis kindergarten student will be included with a shipment of humanitarian supplies to Uzhhorod, Ukraine.

In addition, school children from the Corvallis area have been drawing pictures and writing notes of encouragement that have been added to the humanitarian shipments.

"We just pray and hope for peace," said Rampton. "The people there want what we want: to have a job, to perhaps raise a family, to know their neighbors, have food on their table. It's not any different there."

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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