Omaha woman brings community together to collect winter clothes for Ukrainian children

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – As the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, a woman in Omaha is taking matters into her own hands to put warm clothes on the backs of displaced children in Ukraine.

“I hear friends say, ‘Oh, I have to get rid of these things. They are in my garage. They take up space. And I know how incredibly appreciated and needed these things are,” said Kelly Lytle, Director of Operation Ukraine.

Lytle is committed to helping children in Ukraine. She adopted three children from the country. Over the past 18 years, she has been to the country almost 20 times. She knows how cold it can be in Ukraine.

And with winter approaching, she’s working on a large-scale winter donation campaign, including warm pants, sweatshirts, hats, gloves and, most importantly, coats.

“What do you do if there’s no heat, it’s snowing, there’s ice, and you don’t have winter clothes for your child. Many of them fled in the spring or summer from where they were, from their homes, and the last thing on their mind was to take their winter clothes.

With the help of family, friends and a GoFundMe pageshe collected over 1,000 garments.

It became a community effort. The owner of a local dry cleaning business has offered his services to ensure items are clean when they arrive in Ukraine.

“I keep track of the news, so it was an easy decision for us to donate our time, effort and talents,” said Kermit Engh, owner of Fashion cleaners.

The owner of three UPS stores agreed to be a drop-off site to make it convenient for people from across the metro area.

He is from Ukraine and came to Omaha in 2018. The country and its people are always close to his heart.

“Your morning will start with the news. Your evening will end with the news. You always mostly read news about missiles on Kyiv. Missiles on all electrical infrastructure in Ukraine,” said Dmitry Kolesnikov, the owner of the three UPS stores. “It’s terrible, but there’s little we can do. I can help get those warm clothes back.

Stirnelle, a restaurant in the Blackstone district is also offering gift cards in exchange for coat donations. The Daily Ledger provides storage space for clothes, and the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Assumption is also participating in this effort.

Lytle began collecting donations in October. She plans to send her first shipment once they’re done at Fashion Cleaners.

In order to get them into the hands of families who need them, she has three friends in small Ukrainian towns, themselves displaced, to whom she will ship them. They will then distribute the clothes to families in need.

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