Ukrainian-born Long Island resident organizes fundraisers for war-torn country

LOCUST VALLEY, Long Island (WABC) -- A Locust Valley resident born in Ukraine is organizing fundraisers to get relief supplies to her war-torn country.

Sasha Johnstone's entire family, including her parents and younger brother, live in western Ukraine.

"The first thing I do and the last thing I do before I go to sleep is I check in with my family," she told Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne. "No one feels safe in Ukraine anymore."

Johnstone, 27, recently collected 25 boxes of humanitarian supplies and had them shipped to Ukraine. She organized the fundraiser out of the coffee shop she works at in Locust Valley, Karmic Grind.

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Johnstone was also able to raise more than $9,000, and she said people mailed checks to her from as far away as Upstate New York.

"I didn't realize how many people care, and how much they care," she said.

Johnstone used some of that money to purchase some of the relief supplies. The rest of the money, about $4,000, she is giving to Nika Huk, who is operating a shelter for women and children refugees in Lviv.

"I just wanted to do something to support her cause," Johnstone said. "I admire my people. I admire my nation."

Huk, a Ukrainian fashion blogger, and a team of volunteers serve more than 220 women and children at any given time out of a school building in the city.

She opened up the shelter two days after the conflict began.

"Everyone is scared and afraid," she told Eyewitness News via FaceTime. "We hear all kinds of information. Some are saying Lviv is next."

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Huk, who has her 2-year-old son at the shelter with her, said the biggest need right now is money to pay for heating expenses.

"Nobody wants to leave," she said. "We all want to stay here as long as it's bearable."

Johnstone said her next shipment of supplies may be going out next week.

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