Charleston4Ukraine partners with a doctors associationin Ukraine to meet direct needs
Some of the Charleston4Ukraine team: (from left) Aleksandr Pavlichenko, Ken Marolda, Anna Spann, and Maka Aptsiauri.
The Olde Town Road address couldn’t be more fitting. The delicacies—fresh pierogi, borscht, pelmeni, and khachapuri—available at Euro Foods Bakery & Café evoke the old town, indeed old homeland, flavors that owners Maka Aptsiauri and her husband, Aleksandr Pavlichenko, grew up savoring and missed once they moved to this country. The couple opened the West Ashley establishment in 2006 to remedy that, and today their clientele of Eastern European expats and locals who love that region’s food have found a culinary home-away-from-home. But in the devastating months since Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, Aptsiauri, a native of the Republic of Georgia, and Pavlichenko, a Ukrainian, have added something else to their menu—a way for Charlestonians to show solidarity in direct, tangible ways.
The couple launched Charleston4Ukraine (#CHS4Ukraine and @Chs4Ukraine) to provide aid and relief to the people of the war-torn country, including their own family members, friends, and loved ones still there. In an initial two-day supply drive right after the invasion last winter, Euro Foods collected more than 26,000 pounds of humanitarian aid, which they shipped directly to contacts in Ukraine via trusted couriers. “This is all so very, very close to my heart,” says Aptsiauri, whose homeland is still recovering from Russia’s five-day invasion of the Republic of Georgia in 2008. “I simply cannot imagine how people feel who still have loved ones in Ukraine. My husband calls to check on his family every day. It is heartbreaking, heartbreaking.”
Local physician Maria Dzierzko-Trojanowska brought medical supplies destined for Ukraine to partners in Poland.
Since that first drive, donations and supplies have kept coming in, and thanks to their fiscal sponsorship by West Ashley Connects, Charleston4Ukraine now has official nonprofit status. Their partnership with an association of Ukrainian doctors means aid and supplies help meet direct needs. Local internist
Maria Dzierzko-Trojanowska, a native of Follow Chs4Ukraine on Facebook for their latest news and needs. Visit chs4ukraine.org for donation links. Poland, recently coordinated with the Ukrainian Ministry of Health to personally courier 100 pounds of medical aid.
Field medical kits purchased by Charleston4Ukraine.
“One hundred and fifty children got help through our organization,” says Aptsiauri, the organization’s founder and area coordinator, who is assisted by a small team, including Brittany Ferrior and Anna Spann. “No donation is too small. A packet of Celox [blood clotting powder] can save a life and costs only $26.” Supporters can donate money via a link on the Charleston4Ukraine website or purchase items from the organization’s Amazon wishlist. The group’s Facebook page is updated regularly with suggestions of ways to help or volunteer, as well as testimonies from refugees and those on the ground in Ukraine.
Trauma kits, donated by Elena Piorkowski, containing tourniquets, gauze, bandages, and other first-aid items.
Charleston4Ukraine has assisted locals in finding other ways to contribute. Glenn Ross, a Euro Foods regular, reached out to offer his home to Ukrainian refugees and helped find them employment. And in a symbolic gesture of support, Mayor John Tecklenburg requested a Ukrainian flag from Aptsiauri to fly at City Hall. In June, the organization celebrated their largest single contribution to date—a $10,000 donation from the Evening Exchange Club of Charleston, which issued a challenge match to its sister clubs in the state. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the show of solidarity,” says Aptsiauri. “Euro Foods has become a beautiful community hub. Every day, people come in and ask how they can help.”