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Encinitas Rotary Club raises $17,000 in one hour to help Ukrainians; fundraiser continues

Daphne Fletcher gives a presentation on Ukraine at the Encinitas Rotary Club.
(Kyle Thomas)

Encinitas Rotary Club has raised more than $22,000 for relief efforts in war-torn Ukraine

At the Encinitas Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday, March 16,, Rotary members pulled together and raised nearly $20,000 for relief efforts in war-torn Ukraine.

Rotary Club member Daphne Fletcher gave a presentation about her trip back to Ukraine in search of the long-lost relatives of her great-grandmother, who came to America from Ukraine in the early 1900s for a “better life.”

The moving presentation prompted the club to start a fundraiser, which raised more than $17,000 in the first hour. The total consisted of donations from club members, guests and the Encinitas Rotary Foundation, which matched the first $5,000 raised.

In addition, Home Team Rotary Encinitas donated more than $1,000 in honor of the Uzhhorod Rotary Club’s version of the same program, which helps the elderly in the community.

So far, the Encinitas Rotary raised $22,000.

Fletcher contacted the Rotary Club of Uzhhorod, the birthplace of her grandmother in western Ukraine, to find out if they needed help during the crisis. The Uzhhorod club then introduced a third club, the Rotary of Kosice, Slovakia, which borders Uzhhorod, to coordinate the logistics of getting the supplies transported over the border to Ukraine.

Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, Fletcher has been in close contact with her grandmother’s sister’s descendant, who told her that Uzhhorod, in the western region of Ukraine, has a large number of refugees in need of aid.

“After about a week into the conflict, the refugees started pouring into Uzhhorod where shelters have been set up in gymnasiums. Many are crossing the border to Slovakia, which is 2 kilometers away, or nearby Hungary. I’ve pleaded with my cousin to take the baby across the border to Slovakia, but she is reluctant to leave her husband, where martial law is in place and none of the men are allowed to leave the country — which is the reason the refugees are amassing in Uzhhorod,” Fletcher said.

“My cousin said they still have supplies coming in from Slovakia, so things are not dire there yet, but it has been overwhelming and they are relieved to know that supplies are on the way from our Rotary for the refugees,” Fletcher said.

The population of Uzhhorod, which in the past was about 100,000, has nearly doubled since the start of the conflict as thousands of refugees have flocked to the city, according to Fletcher. The donations from the Encinitas Rotary Club and its European partners are slated to provide much-needed food, clothing and medical supplies.

“I’m overwhelmed by this tremendous spirit of generosity and collaboration,” said Sherry Yardley, Encinitas Rotary president. “This shining example of care and compassion underscores what our mission is all about.”

The Encinitas Rotary Club continues to collect donations for relief efforts in Ukraine through March 30. Check donations can be made out to Encinitas Rotary Foundation and mailed to Encinitas Rotary, P.O. Box 230223, Encinitas, CA 92023. For questions, email DavidLamRotary@gmail.com.


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