Mia Chuma couldn’t believe what was she was seeing. It was 11 at night when the New Hope-Solebury High School junior, a second generation Ukrainian American, hopped on social media and saw the first post on Russian forces invading Ukraine.
“I was just in shock,” the teenager said. “I didn’t know that I could ever process this.”
In the days since she has shed many tears – and, at times, felt utterly helpless.
“It’s so raw,” said Mia, whose grandparents immigrated to the United States shortly after World War II. She has distant relatives remaining in the western region of Ukraine, one who is a member of the Ukrainian parliament.
“From the States, I’m like, how am I supposed to help? I want to be there,” she said. “I want to help defend the nation. I want to help in so many ways. Doing this collection drive is my way of connecting and helping them.”
As a member of New Hope-Solebury’s student government, Mia is spearheading a districtwide Humanitarian Aid Collection for Ukraine through Friday, March 18.
Items collected will be sent to refugees in Europe through the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee. The following items are being accepted: shampoo, bars of soap, toothpaste/toothbrushes, razors, baby formula, diapers, wipes, adult briefs, patient underpads, feminine hygiene products, newly packaged undergarments/socks, knee pads, hand/feet warmers, trash bags, towels, sheets, blankets, wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes and medical supplies.
All items must be new and can be dropped off at any New Hope-Solebury school main office – at the two elementary schools, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and at the high school, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. In addition, an evening collection will take place in the high school auditorium 2:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 17. The high school is located at 182 W. Bridge St.
“Our students’ commitment to supporting those in need is a source of inspiration for us all,” remarked Dr. Charles Lentz, superintendent. “Our community has a proud tradition of rallying in response to critical humanitarian issues, and we are grateful to anyone who helps support our students and their efforts.”
The collection is being organized by student government with assistance from St. Anne’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. Members of the Key Club and National Honor Society have also pitched in, and the high school social studies department, Mia noted, has been involved in spreading word about the drive.
New Hope-Solebury’s student government treasurer and a member of the girls volleyball team, Mia is active in the Ukrainian American community and to say she is in touch with her roots is, perhaps, an understatement.