Students, Kearney residents rally for Ukrainian refugees


ZAHIRA LOPEZ / ANTELOPE STAFF Refugees will be sent hygiene products placed in donation boxes around campus.

Mitchell lierman

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As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to unfold, UNK students are teaming up with the Kearney Chamber of Commerce over the next few weeks to collect supplies to support refugees in eastern Europe.

Organizers jumped into action days before UNK let out for spring break.

“Political science wanted to do something for Ukraine to give back, and then it expanded to be a lot of the student organizations on campus,” said Tanner Butler, a junior who has helped lead efforts on campus to support Ukrainian refugees. “I left for Portland halfway through the week, so we’ve had people volunteer to help reach out to other communities and people reaching out to Greek Life. We’re just trying to do as much as we can to aid in this crisis.”

The alliance between campus and city community members is partnering with Orphan Grain Train of North Platte to collect personal hygiene products. Kearney’s sister city of Opava, Czechia, which is seeing hundreds of refugees a day according to a press release from Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse, will receive these products for the refugees in need. 

“The Czechs are providing accommodations such as food, medical services and other necessities but it is a tremendous strain on their local resources,” according to Clouse in the press release the city distributed on Monday. “Additionally, they are cooperating with mayors of surrounding villages, firefighters, health workers, local institutions, companies and volunteers to provide aid but the evolving situation is escalating.”

The Kearney community plans to collect products and monetary donations over the course of the next two weeks as efforts started on Monday.

Butler says donation boxes will be placed on campus. Students should keep an eye out for collection points in residence halls and at the Nebraskan Student Union.

Those looking to donate may also drop off products at the Kearney Area Community Foundation during their regular office hours or visit to contribute financial assistance.