School supplies donated to help Ukrainian refugees in New Jersey

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — The back-to-school season can be a stressful time of year, and that’s especially true for countless Ukrainian families who are starting over in a brand new place.

As CBS2’s Nick Caloway reports, a group in Bergen County is trying to lighten the load.

At St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Ridgewood, an army of volunteers, many of them in high school, spent the day stuffing backpacks with essentials.

The supplies were donated by people near and far. Precious time as the summer winds down was also given for free.

“I think it’s our duty, as people, to be compassionate for one another,” said Kate Hoffman, a senior at Ridgewood High School.

Fifty of the back-to-school packs were given to Ukrainian families who had to leave their homeland and come here with almost nothing.

High school freshman Anastasia Bard and her family moved from Kharkiv to New Milford two months ago.

“I feel scared. But I think it’s really, like, super that we can get that. Because … it can help,” she said.

Lyubov Ferara was born in Ukraine and has lived in Bergen County the last six years. She’s been helping her people since the war started.

“Maybe the first day, when the news broke, I was numb. I didn’t know what to do. I was lost. But then I decided I’m going to do something that I can control,” she said.

In the basement of St. Elizabeth’s, a former nursery has been converted into a free store for Ukrainian refugees.

Rev. Andy Olivo said the community is turning prayer into action.

“This room filled up in a matter of days. There’s just sort of so much stuff coming in,” he said.

The summer is ending, but the mission will continue. Volunteers say they will continue giving supplies and their time as long as necessary.

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