For many Chicagoans, the war and humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine hits close to home—in fact, the city is home to the country's second-largest Ukrainian-American community. While the situation is devastating, uncertain and scary, many Chicagoans are finding creative ways to help people in Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees arriving in the U.S. From more than 70 local chefs who came together to fundraise for World Central Kitchen, to the Hromovytsia Ukrainian Dance Ensemble offering virtual dance lessons to children trapped in Kyiv, to local artist Joe Trupia fundraising by selling custom Lego minifigures of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Chicagoans are using their skills, ingenuity and passion to support people impacted by the war in Ukraine.
If you want to help too, here are just a few of the business and event fundraisers and local efforts you can support.
Donate to community-driven fundraisers and local refugee resettlement organizations
The Ukrainian community in Chicago has hosted a number of aid and relief fundraisers and campaigns. The Ukrainian National Museum features a bunch of QR codes of recommended organizations to donate to on their website. The museum is also currently featuring an exhibition by local artist Elena Diadenko through March 27, and proceeds from the sale of Diadenko’s paintings will support Revived Soldiers Ukraine.
Ukraine Aid & Rebuilding Fund, Inc. is a nonprofit based out of the Chicago offices of Ukrainian shipping company Meest-Karpaty, who have been collecting and shipping donated goods to Ukraine. According to their website, “donations will help purchase humanitarian aid, fund shipping costs to eastern Europe, and assistance with refugee resettlement.”
Also in the Ukrainian Village community, St. Nicholas Cathedral School is welcoming students arriving from Ukraine. Items for the students can be purchased from this Amazon Wishlist, and the school is collecting donations through the Big Shoulders Fund to cover the students’ tuition, tutoring and counseling.
The Ukrainian Baptist Church in nearby Berwyn is raising funds as well as sponsoring a bakery in Kyiv to bake and distribute bread to people there for free. The West Ridge-based branch of the Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe (F.R.E.E.) also has a relief fundraiser supporting Jewish people in Ukraine.
You can also donate to and volunteer for local organizations like RefugeeOne, the Chicago Refugee Coalition and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), who provide resettlement support not just to refugees from Ukraine, but from all over the world.
Check out small business-driven relief efforts
Throughout the month of March, a number of local restaurants and local businesses have launched creative relief efforts. Chicago wearable institution Busy Beaver Button Co. is offering a special button pack in partnership with the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to Razom for Ukraine. If you’re looking to display your support for Ukraine on your front lawn, the Chicago balloon company Luft Balloon is selling blue and yellow balloon arrangements supporting Unicef.
Jefferson Park-based Delightful Pastries and Humboldt Park “Jew-ish” deli Jeff & Jude’s are both fundraising with baked goods—buy Delightful Pastries’ bright blue and yellow cookies & cupcakes to support the Ukrainian Red Cross and World Central Kitchen, while $1 from every nostalgic deli-style black and white cookie from Jeff & Jude’s supports medical and humanitarian aid organization Sunflower for Peace. Speaking of baked goods, vegan donut purveyors Liberation Donuts are contributing 50 percent of sales this month from their Total Liberation donut (lemon poppyseed!) to Shelter Ugolyok, an animal shelter and farm sanctuary in Ukraine. And if you’re really hungry, stretch those delivery dollars further—order from either Dimo’s Pizza location and you’ll be given an option to contribute to World Central Kitchen.
Attend a fundraising event
The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art is hosting a “Chicago Legends for Ukraine” concert at the Chopin Theatre in Wicker Park on April 1, with an all-star lineup of performers including trumpet virtuoso Orbert Davis, pianist Leandro López Várady and diva and bandleader Lynne Jordan. 100 percent of the proceeds from the event will go to humanitarian relief efforts. That same weekend, on April 3, chamber music outfit The Juliani Ensemble and Primitive gallery are hosting a concert benefiting the International Rescue Committee and showcasing Ukrainian composers.
On April 9, superfans of Twin Peaks and filmmaker David Lynch can flock to The Hideout for an evening with musician and actor Richard Green, aka The Magician from Mulholland Drive. Proceeds from this evening of music and storytelling will support Green’s colleague, Alex Shurun, and her son, who are currently seeking refuge in Poland.