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How you can help refugees in Ukraine

Many residents and businesses throughout the Coachella Valley have come together to support Ukraine.

Elena Vitkovskaya, Owner of Marmelad Beauty House in Indian Wells, grew up with a Ukrainian father and a Russian mother.

“My question is like, who am I? It’s for me like everybody- Russian, Ukrainian, Belarus, Kazakhstan… everybody like brother and sister because a lot of mixed family," Vitkovskaya said.

After seeing the violence from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, she said she needed to step in and help.

Over the weekend, she gathered her friends to pack supplies to send to refugees.

“For 3 days, I have like my place totally blocked with packages, boxes and all stuff," Vitkovskaya described, "Blankets, sleep bags, underwear, like warm stuff, medication food– all that’s necessary.”

She was joined by Tatiana Wright, founder of “Act Now for the Future”. Wright was born to a Ukrainian father and Belarusian mother.

The ongoing crisis hitting close to home for her. “I had to talk to my friends and relatives, begging them to just be alive. I was telling them, can you please be alive?”

She said if everyone works together to support Ukraine, they can make a difference.

“We’ve already done what we could, now we’re doing what can do even more and bigger because I believe that when we’re together, we’re strong," Wright said.

Vitkovskaya and Wright join other residents who have contributed towards helping Ukraine.

Dr. Dan Olesnicky with Executive Urgent Care in Indian Wells has created nearly 5,000 first aid kits to send to the country.

While Owner of ‘Haus of Pizza’ in Palm Desert, Iryna Pyle who was born and raised in Ukraine, is raising money on the Haus of Pizza’s Facebook page

How can you help from half a world away?

By donating money to reputable organizations.

According to the Better Business Bureau, here are some tips to keep in mind when making donations:

  • Can the charity get to the impacted area? Not all relief organizations will be positioned to provide relief quickly. See if the charity already has a presence in Ukraine.
  • Should you send clothing and food? Local drives to collect clothing and food to send overseas may not be practical as the logistics and timing to deliver and disperse such items will be challenging. Relief organizations are better equipped to obtain what is needed, distribute it effectively and avoid duplication of effort.
  • Does the relief charity meet BBB Charity Standards?  You can verify a charity’s trustworthiness by viewing an evaluative report completed by BBB Wise Giving Alliance.  See the list provided below of charities that that are soliciting for relief assistance for Ukraine and that also meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.
  • Is the charity experienced in providing emergency relief? Experienced disaster relief charities are the best bet to help deliver aid as soon as possible. New entrants may have difficulty in following through even if they have the best of intentions.
  • Are you considering crowdfunding appeals? If engaging in crowdfunding, it is safest to give to someone you personally know and trust, and review the platform’s policies regarding fees and distribution of collected funds. If the crowdfunding request is from a charity, check out the group by visiting Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals or organizations that decide to post for relief assistance. Sites that take security measures will usually provide descriptions of these procedures.
  • Does the appeal make exaggerated financial claims such as “100% will be spent on relief.” Charities have fundraising and administrative expenses. Any charity claiming otherwise is potentially misleading the donating public. Even a credit card donation will have a processing fee.

Be sure to watch out for charity scams!

Do your research, and make sure that the organization you’re donating to has proof of delivering aid in Ukraine.

Check out to see if it is a trustworthy organization.

Check Out Some of Our Coverage on the Local Impact of the Russia-Ukraine War:

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Samantha Lomibao

Samantha joined KESQ News Channel 3 in May 2021. Learn more about Samantha here here.


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