LINZ. The war in Ukraine triggered a wave of helpfulness in Upper Austria. In addition to the large organizations such as Caritas, the Red Cross or Volkshilfe, local initiatives have been set up in many communities. Together with associations and companies, people have collected money, organized donations for the affected areas or taken care of Ukrainian refugees. Although the enormous willingness to help among the population has waned after a few months, the commitment of the volunteers has not.
One year after the Russian attack on February 24, the OÖ Nachrichten spoke to four initiatives about their work for the people of Ukraine.
Welser “heating candles” for the Ukraine
Helpers from Wels want to send some warmth to the people of Ukraine with homemade candles made from tin cans, cardboard, wax and paraffin. A candle burns for up to four hours and can be used as a heat source or for cooking. There were 1000 last year. The project was initiated by Tetyana Voytenko from the Wels company “Laser & More”, who has already carried out a number of relief campaigns with customers, suppliers and employees. One delivery goes to Ukraine every month. A year of experience has not passed without a trace. “We have learned to provide more targeted help and to handle very specific projects,” says Voytenko. In February, your company, together with Fronius, donated a high-quality welding machine for repairs to emergency vehicles.
Marchtrenk shows a “heart for Ukraine”
The Wels candle project is also supported by Katharina Bauer from Marchtrenk. She founded the association “Heart for Ukraine” in 2019 and collected money for families who lost relatives in the conflict that has been going on since 2014, as well as for a children’s hospital and school supplies for orphans. A lot changed with the war. “We used to work quietly and could plan everything in advance,” says Bauer. It has been a marathon since February 24th. There is no longer a store for donations in kind; the association now collects sponsorships for orphans. In Marchtrenk he also takes care of 75 refugees – successfully. Almost everyone learns German and has a job. On Sunday there will be a benefit event for the earthquake victims in Turkey, where the Ukrainian Marchtrenker will be actively helping.
Heart for Ukraine donation account: AT87 3468 0000 0818 9086
10,000 Tushonkas and new plans
In the months after the war began, SUNUA (Support Ukraine Now Upper Austria) was one of the largest civil society aid organizations. Founded by the entrepreneurs Thomas Brunner from St. Florian and Anna Klymenko from Linz, the association with hundreds of helpers ran a collection center and a contact point for Ukrainian refugees at the Linz Volksgarten. In the autumn, activities were shifted to on-site assistance. For example, winter clothing, special sleeping bags, 30 generators and many other relief supplies were sent to Ukraine by truck.
SUNUA had 10,000 canned meats, called Tushonkas, produced locally and distributed to the villages at the front. “In Upper Austria, the willingness to help and attention has certainly decreased, but many are aware of the importance of the topic,” says Brunner. There has been a new project since January. In cooperation with corporations such as Aldi Süd, SUNUA wants to produce one million bags of fruit pulp and distribute them to children’s homes and children’s hospitals in the Ukraine.
Donation account: AT20 1500 0007 1157 8559
The Salzkammergut helps
Accepting donations in kind, collecting money, looking for quarters and work for refugees: There is hardly anything that the Ukrainehilfe Salzkammergut does not do. The association was co-founded by the Ukrainian Lyudmyla Zeppetzauer, who has lived in Bad Ischl for 15 years. Around twenty people are currently active between Gosau and Strobl. The donations have already decreased towards the summer of last year. “That’s a normal development,” says Zeppetzauer, “even among Ukrainians the willingness to help has decreased.” Nevertheless, a bus with relief supplies drives to the Ukraine every other week. For the helpers, the development means a return to something close to normality. “In the first few months it was up to 16 hours a day, now it’s six or seven,” says Zeppetzauer. The family suffered as a result.
Donation account: AT83 3454 5000 0012 2440