'It makes me feel so good': Rotary Club volunteers pack 22,000 meals for Ukrainian refugees

With music playing and volunteers dancing, members of seven local Rotary Clubs came together Thursday night at the Salvation Army in Elgin to pack 22,000 meals for Ukrainian refugees.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with members of the Carpentersville club, Olha Krushelnytska smiled, but she couldn't bring herself to dance. She said her heart was still in Ukraine, and it wouldn't let her.

Krushelnytska, 25, moved to the United States with her husband two years ago. Her parents and most of her family still live in Ukraine or have fled to neighboring countries.

“I'm very glad to be here and help however I can, and it makes me feel so good to see everyone here wanting to help, too,” Krushelnytska said. “It wasn't that long ago that when I told people I was from Ukraine, they'd ask, 'Where's that?'”

Krushelnytska joined a Rotarian co-worker from First American Bank to help out on the assembly line, packing meals of pasta with tomato-basil sauce that will be sent to Poland to help feed the more than 1.5 million refugees that have flooded in from Ukraine.

The seven Rotary Clubs donated $1,100 each and worked with The Outreach Program and their local affiliate Feed6 to build the meals. The Outreach Program is an Iowa-based group whose mission is to provide safe water, food, medical care and education to those in need at home and abroad. Convoy of Hope will pay to have the food shipped to Europe.

About 100 volunteers representing Carpentersville, Dundee Township, Fox Valley Sunset, Glen Ellyn, the Breakfast and Noon Rotary Clubs of Elgin and the Interact Club of St. Edwards Central Catholic High School packed the meals in just over an hour. Each meal feeds four people.

“You don't usually see a collaboration of a lot of different clubs,” said Nancy Effert, of the Fox Valley Sunset Rotary Club. “This is a great chance for us to get together, have some fun and do some good.”

For Krushelnytska, it was a chance to get away from relentlessly watching the news from home.

“I haven't slept for two nights,” she said. She worries about her parents, even though she says they live in a town that, so far, has been relatively unscathed. They turned down an offer to move to Italy and live with Krushelnytska's aunt.

“They want to stay and volunteer and do what they can to help, like all the Ukrainian people,” she said.

  Seven Rotary Clubs packed 22,000 meals of pasta with tomato-basil sauce Thursday night in Elgin for Ukrainian refugees who have fled to Poland. Rick West/
  Carole Medal, of the Elgin Noon Rotary Club, helps pack meals for Ukrainian refugees Thursday night in Elgin. Rick West/
  Roughly 100 volunteers, including members of the St. Edward Central Catholic High School Interact Club, came together Thursday in Elgin to pack meals for Ukrainian refugees. Rick West/
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.