A Massachusetts woman who emigrated to the United States from Ukraine over a decade ago has raised over half a million dollars for humanitarian assistance for the people of her home country.
"All of us right now are very, very worried about our relatives," said Katya Malakhova. "It’s very hard. But we’re trying to stay strong because if my family and friends can stay strong, then we must do this for them.”
Worried about the safety of her friends and family who still live in Ukraine, Malakhova says she hasn't been sleeping much.
"Honestly no one thought this would happen. Not the scale, not the whole Ukraine full on invasion. Absolutely not," she said of the Russian invasion.
Sign up for our Breaking newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.
The founder of "Sunflowers of Peace," Malakhova first started her organization in 2015 after Russia annexed the region of Crimea. But since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, Malakhova has directed the organization towards raising relief funds for Ukrainians stuck inside the country.
From the fundraiser on her organization's Facebook page, Malakhova has raised half a million dollars in the last week alone, but the support hasn't just been in the form of dollar bills.
People have dropped off medical supplies on her front porch in Newton that can be included in emergency medical backpacks.
"They’re actually meant to save lives up to 10 people because they have everything,” she said of the backpacks.
Along with medical supplies left at her doorstep, a message was left written in snow in front of Malakhova's house: "Glory to Ukraine," written in Russian.
More on Local Efforts for Ukraine
Malakhova, who came to this country 14 years ago, says the response to Ukraine’s call for help has been touching, but not surprising.
"Americans are aware that, 'oh my gosh, this is something that that we should not take lightly,'” she said.
Still, Malakhova says more needs to be done to save her country and her family.