WASHINGTON (7News) — Reporter’s Notebook: So much is being done in our region to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Eastern Europe following Russian’s invasion of Ukraine. This story features a local woman bound and determined to save her homeland.
Annie Raush-Gernet never imagined her entire driveway in Mt. Airy, Maryland would serve as a gateway of hope for her war-ravaged homeland.
Raush-Gernet says, “At least if we can help with this it will help them to survive and hold on.”
This 37-year-old businesswoman, who grew up in Ukraine, recently organized a massive aid drive in response to the humanitarian crisis in Eastern Europe.
“And my heart is still there so it hurts me so much. My people and Ukrainians are going to be hurt,” says Raush-Gernet.
For Annie, this is deeply personal. Countless friends and family, including her 83-year-old grandmother, are in harm’s way.
Raush-Gernet adds, “They’ve been hiding in the basements and it’s really difficult to hear that they are spending nights outside."
Hunkering down if and when the fight comes to them.
“They are Ukrainians. They don’t run. Nope. Uh uh,” emphasizes Annie.
This drive began with a simple Amazon Wish List requesting everything from medical supplies for wounded soldiers to non-perishable food for fleeing families.
Annie says, “We have a lot of stuff for babies like formulas, diapers, baby clothes, hygiene products.”
But she never expected that in less than 48 hours more than 4,000 packages landed on her porch. She and a hundred friends then spent an entire weekend culling and boxing up more than 50-thousand pounds of goods.
“It brought me to tears. I’m really thankful to everyone,” adds Annie.
And 7News On Your Side was there for a critical step in this process when employees of O’Sullivan Tree Care out of New York volunteered their time and tractor-trailers to load up dozens of palettes bound for aid organizations in Poland and Ukraine. Raush-Gernet is in a unique position in that she has scores of personal and professional connections in Ukraine helping her get aid to the right organizations on the ground.
Annie concludes, “I wish someday we can smile and laugh but at this moment probably not.”
Annie Raush-Gernet is already planning her next relief drive from her driveway so that one day she can return to the beloved fertile plains and plateaus of her homeland, to smile and laugh once again.
If you’d like to donate to Annie’s next humanitarian aid drive click here.