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Western New Yorkers finding ways to give back to Ukrainian refugees

A Hamburg woman originally from Poland has raised more than $15K, and a Williamsville woman will soon make a second trip to drop off supplies in Poland.

HAMBURG, N.Y. — It takes just one neighbor to make a difference. 

"I knew that I wanted to help somehow," said Joanna Cerrone of Hamburg. 

Cerrone did just that by texting 30 people she knew and also starting a fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees on social media, after many of them started fleeing to her hometown in Poland to the Polish-Ukrainian home. It's a former school that's been turned into temporary housing for refugees. 

"Those people are fleeing war. They have nothing with them. They don't have food, they don't have clothes. A majority of them are kids," Cerrone said. 

With the help of Western New York, Cerrone has sent more than $15,000 to her mom and sister over in Poland, so they could buy bedding, appliances, furniture, and even backpacks for refugees over at the Polish-Ukrainian home. 

Now Cerrone is expanding the effort to help her hometown's neighbors all thanks to a Hamburg neighbor and owner of Molly + Kate boutique, Molly Sowinski. 

"(Joanna) reached out. I said we're happy to help and she wanted to raise money for her hometown. I said we can make t-shirts and sell them. People love a good t-shirt. They're $24 for kids and $28 for adults so it's a very easy, affordable price point for pretty much everybody," Sowinski said. 

All the proceeds from the blue and yellow 'City of Good Neighbors' shirt go to Ukraine, and you can buy one here. 

From Hamburg to Williamsville, everyone is doing their part. 

"We sent over so many pallets," said Lydia Dominick, owner of Buffalo Balloon Co. and founder of Buffalo Gives. 

Dominick just got back from dropping off more than 20 pallets of supplies for Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

"That's something that was an incredible honor and continues to be," Dominick said. 

On April 2, she's going back with more medical supplies she hopes the community will donate. 

You can also donate money to Buffalo Gives on Venmo, with the handle @Buffalo-Gives. 

She also just got a shipping license from the federal government to send ballistic helmets and bulletproof vests to Ukraine. 

"Not only are we saving and protecting civilian fighters, but these are women and children who are getting caught in gunfire while trying to escape," Dominick said. 

It starts with one neighbor.

"I have an incredible team who's helping me not only process what we experienced the pain that we saw but continue to do more to help it," Dominick said. 

However, it takes the effort of an entire community to save humanity. 


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