Linden Schools Send Support and Relief Supplies to Ukraine

(above) Students at School No. 8 in Linden with Linden Mayor Derek Armstead and teachers Heather Astalos and Amanda Schweikardt during a Ukrainian flag-raising at City Hall on March 5. The students are Adriana Rodriguez-Kalyuzhna, Anna Brum, Lucas Campos, Nela Barillova, Layla Safner and Elizabeth Safner.

Linden Schools Send Support to Ukraine

Linden Public Schools

Linden High School came together in a strong show of support for Ukraine on Friday, March 11, as hundreds of staff and students left class to join the “Stand Up for Peace” event in the school hallways.

Three seniors who hail from Ukraine – Khrystyna Sul, Andriy Martsiyash, and Solomiya Malanyuk – were at the heart of the movement, holding a Ukrainian flag and standing by an “LHS Students for Peace” display. The front hallway and lobby were decorated with giant paper sunflowers, and many students held or hung sunflower pictures that they had colored.

“This is completely a student-led movement,” said Principal Yelena Horré. “Students came to me with the idea of wanting to support the people of Ukraine who have been displaced. They were looking for hope, for a way to do something to help the families and everyone there.”

Many staff members and students showed their support by wearing blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, or lapel pins that students had crocheted and sold as a fundraiser. The demonstration started at 2:23, symbolizing the date of Feb. 23, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

During the demonstration, the Ukrainian national anthem was played throughout the school, then everyone observed a moment of silence to honor those who have been killed.

“Some of our students are personally impacted by the suffering in Ukraine, and they want to help their family and friends who are in the middle of the war,” said Superintendent Dr. Marnie Hazelton. “But even those students who are just watching on TV or their phones realize the terrible hardships the Ukrainian people are enduring and want to do what they can to help.”

The school is collecting donations to send to Ukraine, including clothes, medical supplies, and non-perishable food. There are collection boxes in the front lobby of each building at LHS, as well as in other schools throughout the Linden Public Schools district. The supplies are going to be given to Meest-America, a shipping company where Martsiyash works that has halted regular operations to send relief supplies to Ukraine.

Linden High School is also collecting cash contributions to be donated to UNICEF to help Ukrainian children.

“I’m just proud of our students,” Horré said. “It has always been the young voices that have brought about change and social justice. And that’s what this is, student voices speaking up for peace. We want a world that embraces peace.”

(above) Students from School No. 8 in Linden with relief supplies they collected to help the people of Ukraine. In front is third-grader Anna Brum, who had the idea to collect donations and write letters of support to the children of Ukraine. In back are members of the K-Kids community service group who worked to organize the relief drive. From left are Emily Siegel, Layla Safner, Lucas Campos, Jacob Jimenez, Aidan Moncayo, Taylor Forney and Stacy Villanueva.

School No. 8 in Linden also collected relief supplies to send to Ukraine. The initiative was the idea of third-grader Anna Brum and was undertaken by the school’s K-Kids community service club. They collected first-aid supplies, hygiene products, baby supplies, and small food items for Be in Charge NJ, a non-profit dedicated to community service.

Anna also had the idea of writing letters to the children of Ukraine “telling them that we care about them and that everything will be OK,” said her teacher, Heather Astalos. Students were invited to the City of Linden’s Ukrainian flag-raising on March 5 because of their efforts.

“I want to thank Anna and her family with coming up with such a special and heartfelt idea,” Astalos said. “The School 8 community, especially the K-Kids student group, has been extremely supportive and happy to help the children of Ukraine.”

Principal Michelle Rodriguez said she was not surprised by Anna’s generosity.

“This is the same little girl who years ago when we were raising money for a fellow student who was sick, she donated all her birthday money to the cause,” she said. “She is a student who thinks about what she can do for others and thinks even bigger to make it an overall community effort toward a cause. She is aware of how kids may feel during this tough, scary time, and she is selfless in her thoughts and charitable in her actions.” 

(above) Linden High School students Khrystyna Sul and Andriy Martsiyash listen as the Ukrainian national anthem is played during the “Stand Up for Peace” demonstration at the school on Friday, March 11. The two were born in Ukraine and have family and friends struggling through the war.
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