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Ukrainian Americans use blood drive to give back to supporters

Ukrainian blood drive
Posted at 5:47 PM, Feb 02, 2023

WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — As the one-year mark of the war in Ukraine approaches, Ukranian Americans in metro Detroit are working to give back to those who have supported them.

Thursday, dozens of people showed up to the St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church in Warren for the Forever Grateful Blood Drive.

"We were deeply moved by the support we received from our friends, neighbors and colleagues for Ukraine after the full-scale invasion," said Larysa Blyzniuk with the Ukrainian-American Crisis Response Committee of Michigan.

Larysa says the Ukrainian-American Crisis Response Committee of Michigan was birthed after the war started nearly one year ago. She says the committee is made up of several organizations from Southeast Michigan that serve Ukrainian American populations.

Thursday, they worked with Versiti Blood Center of Michigan for the blood drive. All blood donations made during the drive will go to local health systems. Blyzniuk says they believe giving the gift of life to the community was the best way to thank those who have supported Ukrainian in their fight for freedom.

Tetyana Sereduik, who has lived in the U.S. for 16 years, showed up to the blood drive in hopes of showing her appreciation.

"I understand nobody likes this war, but we can’t forget about Ukraine," Sereduik said.

Sereduik says she originally moved to metro Detroit after marrying her husband. She says her parents and other family still live in Ukraine.

"My parents right now are without power, without heater. It’s terrible," Sereduik said. "Every single day before I go in to my job, I call to my mom and sometimes I can’t talk to her. Without power, I can’t. And everyday when I wake up I think if I have parents or not."

Roman Zebar, who was born in the U.S. but has extended family in Ukraine, says the war has also been challenging for him to watch.

"I’m concerned about what’s happening in Ukraine. I’ve got family in Ukraine and whatever happens down the road is going to impact me and moreso my family in Ukraine," Zebar said as he donated blood. "It’s very troubling not knowing what’s going to happen that day or the next day."

Both Zebar and Sereduik say throughout the war, they've taken note of the unwavering support from Americans.

"I remember when this war was starting how many Americans donated to Ukrainians. It was amazing," Sereduik said.

Blood banks say drives like this are important as blood supply remains critically low across the nation following the pandemic.

"Your aunt, your mother, your child, anything could happen to these people where they might need the blood," Shamelle Jackson with Versiti Blood Center of Michigan said.

Jackson says Versiti is the primary supplier of blood for Henry Ford Health and Beaumont Health hospitals in Detroit.

"Since I've been here, I have seen the drop in donors, donors not showing up, how slow the drives are and things like that," Jackson said.

The Ukrainian Americans who showed up to the blood drive say although help will still be needed as the war endures, they want Americans to know they appreciate all they've done so far.

" To walk around in my community, in my neighborhood, to see Ukrainian flags and we stand with Ukraine. I never thought I would see that and to see it has been incredibly moving," Blyzniuk said. "I think we’re all united in the fight for liberty and I think that’s why Americans responded so strongly to what Ukraine is going through."