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Sister Cities donates $10K for Ukraine relief

Posted 8/3/22

On Tuesday, July 26, at Midfirst Bank, a transfer of $10,000 was wired to Zamość, Poland, to help support the ongoing refugee efforts there.

Earlier this year, the southeastern Polish border …

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Sister Cities donates $10K for Ukraine relief


On Tuesday, July 26, at Midfirst Bank, a transfer of $10,000 was wired to Zamość, Poland, to help support the ongoing refugee efforts there.

Earlier this year, the southeastern Polish border city took in roughly 4,000 refugees, including 425 children, fleeing the ongoing Russian aggression on Ukraine. The situation in Zamość has been followed closely, as it happens to be one of Fountain Hills Sister Cities.

“Our heart breaks for what’s going on over there,” Christine Colley, president of Fountain Hills Sister Cities, said.

This marks the third donation of $10,000 to Zamość that the Fountain Hills Sister Cities community-based 501(c)(3) organization has coordinated, and Colley is proud of her community for coming together in support of their Polish Sister City.

Along with the funds, 13 boxes were shipped to Zamość, all filled with school supplies for the displaced children, trudging to school in conditions difficult to fathom.

The supply boxes were an idea born from a short clip shown to a class of Desert Mountain High School (DMHS) students depicting a child carrying his schoolbooks in a mop bucket.

The students in Laura Winstin-Seitz’s second- and third-period classes sat watching, feeling all types of emotions as Winstin-Seitz opened a discussion centered on how terrible that child must feel not having a backpack or pencils.

“I asked them if they thought they could do anything to impact and help those children,” Winstin-Seitz said. “The students offered that they should send that child a backpack. We fleshed out the idea more and came up with a plan to fundraise for school supplies.”

To get the green light to begin fundraising, Winstin-Seitz’s students created a slideshow presentation for the school administration to watch. The administration was moved by the students’ passion and allowed the fundraiser to happen.

“My students designed posters and fliers which they distributed throughout the school,” Winstin-Seitz said.

With enough supplies collected, the students packed the boxes and delivered them to Fountain Hills Sister Cities to be sent to Zamość.

“It was a wonderful undertaking for these kids,” Winstin-Seitz added. “I elaborated the power they had in affecting change in such a way that exercised their humanity. I wanted them to understand that their contributions impacted the lives of so many children across the sea in such a wonderful and positive way.

“I emphasized that whenever they felt bad, they could always remember what an amazing contribution they made to help other people. My hope is that this effort gave them a sense of empowerment as well as demonstrating the best of their humanity.”

While the boxes of school supplies were sent to a freight forwarder, Colley and Fountain Hills Sister Cities Treasurer Chandra Merica met on Tuesday at Midfirst Bank to ensure that the third donation of funds was successfully transferred to Zamość.

Colley and Merica confirmed that one of the families in Poland who are hosting refugees is the same family who hosted Fountain Hills students through the cultural and student exchange program.

“Zamość is 60 kilometers from the [Ukrainian] border…the Zamość mayor, he goes every day to the border and makes sure that the people have what they need, and there’s a huge initiative to support that cost,” Colley said.

The funds will help secure walkie talkies to help in the communication efforts in Zamość.

Colley and Merica say that while $10,000 is a substantial donation, it’s a drop in the bucket for thousands of displaced families whose lives have been upended by war.

“That’s why we want to continue to raise funds,” Merica said. “We want to make this ongoing. Whatever we can get is helpful.”

Fountain Hills Sister Cities is a community-based 501(c)(3) organization that provides opportunities for the people of Fountain Hills to develop relationships through interaction with citizens of the Town’s Sister Cities. For more information about Fountain Hills Sister Cities or to donate, visit fountainhillssistercities.org.