JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new school year means change. But for some, those changes are more than just moving up a grade.
Students and families who fled Ukraine are now also going to class right here in Northeast Florida.
Catholic Charities Jacksonville works with these families -- finding them housing and resources. The organization says more families will be coming and they need your help.
Liudmyla Lonima fled her country earlier this summer with her 10-year-old son and 14-month-old daughter. They had to leave one person behind.
“The main figure in our family was my husband,” Lonima said.
Her husband had to stay and fight, leaving Lonima to fight in a different way here in Jacksonville.
”Now we’re surviving in other ways than they do in Ukraine, they survive physically we try to survive mentally.”
She’s teaching the same lessons to her family, especially her son who started 4th grade this week.
”For son, it’s more complicated he still has friends, loved teachers, loved school, and now he realized he’s in another country and has to be in other school,” Lonima said.
He’s attending a local charter school here in Jacksonville and the owners are also Ukrainian. Lonima says that connection helps but her son is mainly concerned about communicating with the other kids.
”I spoke to him every day and I said don’t worry if someone does not understand you, you will understand each other more when you will be closer to each other,” she said.
Lonima would like to go back home to Ukraine one day, but right now she has no choice but to stay and fight the only way she knows how.
”Only one thing makes me strong I’m alone here so I understand if something is wrong with me, my family will have a huge problem and be responsible for themselves so I understand that I don’t have a chance to fall.”
The best way to make an immediate impact is through a monetary donation so that the Catholic Charities team can purchase the most pressing items needed for families.
The organization is currently taking donations both at the Catholic Charities Jacksonville regional office (40 E Adams St. #300) and at the Providence Center (134 E Church Street) Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Items needed include:
- Notebook paper
- Crayons & colored pencils
- Pens and pencils
- Glue sticks
- Prong folders
- 1″ three-ring binders
- Sticky notes
- Graph paper
- Printer paper
- Composition books
- Spiral notebooks
- Lunch boxes
The organization is also accepting volunteers and in-kind donations. Those interested can visit ccbjax.org for more information.