STATEN ISLAND — Box after box filled with diapers, food and medicine are stacked and ready for delivery to people trying to survive the Russian attack on Ukraine.
Meest, a Ukrainian courier service on Midland Avenue, has already gathered around 1,000 boxes of supplies.
“It’s hard and I always follow the news,” said Kate Saetckaia, the manager of Meest Staten Island, of what it’s like watching war unfold in Ukraine. “I mean, it's really hard to stand, but I'm trying my best and doing everything I can.”
Staten Island has the second largest population of Ukrainian immigrants in the five boroughs. Saetckaia said the support from the island has been overwhelming.
“It was like hundreds of people. People took days off to come here and help us to sort the packages,” she said. “They dropped everything they could: the clothing, the diapers, the food, medical supplies.”
The aid gets sent to a Meest warehouse in Port Reading, New Jersey, just under 20 minutes over the Outerbridge.
Here, employees and volunteers sort through all the supplies and organize them to be sent overseas.
Meest in Ukrainian means “bridge” and the company's goal is to connect Ukrainians in the U.S. to those in Ukraine. Myroslava Downey is the HR manager. She said, due to the Russian invasion, they’ve changed how the company operates.
“Large part of our business was mail forwarding business, where residents of Ukraine would purchase items online and bring them to our warehouse and we would forward it to them,” said Downey.
Now, the warehouse is focusing solely on sending aid. Downey said funding for these operations has become a struggle.
“The profits that would allow us to make shipments and pay the operating expenses were completely gone. We are right now partnering with other organizations who not only sponsor and collect humanitarian aid but help pay the transportation costs,” said Downey.
Downey said they are working hard to make sure operations continue, adding that medical supplies are crucial at the moment.