Corvallis community sending support to sister city in Ukraine

While many people around the world are stepping up to help, one city in Oregon has a very unique connection to one in Ukraine.
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 7:24 AM PDT
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CORVALLIS, Ore. (KPTV) - The war in Ukraine is now entering it’s sixth week. While many people around the world are stepping up to help, one city in Oregon has a very unique connection to one in Ukraine.

In a third grade classroom at Adams Elementary in Corvallis, an art project showcases words of hope and drawings for kids like them across the globe.

“This says ‘We love you,’ and I’m going to send it to Ukraine,” said Alexey Kovalenko.

For Kovalenko, it’s personal. His family is Ukrainian and was forced to flee the war.

“They escaped. They are in Australia with my mom’s sister,” he said.

His card is one of more than 200 pieces of art that students at Adams Elementary have made for children sheltering from war in Ukraine.

“They all felt really empowered that they could do something that was going to go across the world,” said Laura Rathja, teacher at Adams Elementary.

It’s all part of a mission inspired by a deep history between Corvallis and it’s sister city, Uzhhorad, Ukraine.

“This is a 30-year, three decade relationship with these people,” said Alice Rampton with Corvallis Sister Cities Association.

Corvallis first became a sister city with Uzhhorad more than 30 years ago when it was part of the former Soviet Union. Rampton said in the late 80s many in the community wanted to learn about people who were once seen as an enemy during the Cold War.

“These were people that when we were in grade school, we were hiding underneath the desk to protect ourself from these bad people, and they now are our best friends,” said Rampton. “We don’t know anyone in Uzhhorad who isn’t housing a refugee or a family member that had to flee.”

The city sits far on the western side of Ukraine, and is considered one of the safest in the country, which means it has become flooded with those needing help.

“Usually, we take half a suitcase full of gifts, now we’re doing medication that’s in short supply or not available, we’re sending ostomy supplies, we’re sending bandages and wound care,” Rampton said.

A recent rally put on by the Corvallis Sister Cities Association showed support for the people of Ukraine. They have raised more than $250,000 in just weeks, shipping dozens of suitcases of necessities, even sending volunteers to Ukraine.

Rally held in Corvallis to support people of Ukraine
Rally held in Corvallis to support people of Ukraine(KPTV)

“Everybody in their own way - be it an artist or a business owner - people are reaching out. People are good, and we just hope that there will be peace,” Rampton said.

A hope playing out through pencils onto paper for friends, and for some family, halfway around the world.

“I feel happy, so I can make them happy so they won’t suffer as much,” Kovalenko said.

The Corvallis Sister Cities Association is sending volunteers to help in Ukraine. If you would like to learn more about the sister cities or donate, click here.