PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD — Friday marks one year of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and local first responders and the Jewish Federation of Peoria have been assisting Ukrainians the entire time.
One Central Illinois woman’s father was rescued from Dnipro, Ukraine by the Jewish Federation of Peoria. The organization supports the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a global Jewish humanitarian organization assisting Ukrainians.
“He’s 87 and speaks no English, but he knows and we know we saved him…It’s been incredibly rewarding to get to know them and see the difference we made. She has told us if we hadn’t gotten her father out, she doesn’t think he’d still be alive,” said Susan Katz, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Peoria, a branch of Jewish Federations of North America.
Katz said Jewish Federations of North America raised $85 million to help Ukraine. The funds have allowed JDC to support 500,000 Ukrainians with transportation, meals, and medical support in the past year.
“They stepped into action right away. Began providing support that people needed, support to help them get out. For seniors that couldn’t leave or people who didn’t want to leave, we provided food, clothing, and medical assistance. Over the winter, we provided generators, blankets [and] clothing,” she said.
In partnership with OSF Healthcare and Peoria Fire Department, Advanced Medical Transport in Peoria donated an ambulance filled with medical supplies to Ukraine in April.
“It was a long journey and made it there fairly quickly. And they were able to deploy it very quickly too and put it into service,” said Josh Bradshaw, community resource manager at Advanced Medical Transport.
Bradshaw said the ambulance is currently serving on the frontlines in Kyiv.
“I love seeing our trucks operating over there and doing good for people. They did a lot of good here right here, they saved a lot of lives here in Central Illinois and now they get to go save lives in a place with really large challenges,” he said.
The El Paso Emergency Squad also donated an ambulance in July.
The Chillicothe Fire Department donated one of its fire trucks in October.