Shrewsbury middle school students organize fundraiser for Ukraine

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Shrewsbury middle school students organize fundraiser for Ukraine
Maura Egan stands with students Anushri Mishra, Sam Kittur, Suchi Mather and Thomas Mendoza as the Ukrainian flag they helped create is seen in their school’s cafeteria window. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

SHREWSBURY – A group of Shrewsbury middle school students are proud of the large Ukrainian flag they helped build in a cafeteria window earlier this month.

Visible from nearby Oak Street, the flag is a physical manifestation of a larger fundraising effort by Anushri Mishra, Suchi Mather, Thomas Mendoza, Kinza Zadi and Sam Kittur.

Collectively, that group helped raise more than $1,500 that will now pay for medical aid and humanitarian relief amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I think the school is actually very caring and I appreciate being a part of it,” Mishra said in a recent interview with the Community Advocate.

Students organize fundraiser

Students have seen news stories and participated in class discussions in recent weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine late last month.

As a result, students were quickly aware of the conditions, which soon deteriorated amid widespread violence and destruction following the start of the invasion.

The experience was personal for Mishra, who said they have a friend with loved ones in Ukraine.

“I had been noticing that a lot of people were talking about them needing to evacuate and I felt bad,” Mishra said.

Mishra had the idea to hold a fundraiser, rallying a group of friends and then preparing a proposal to bring to Oak Middle School Principal Ann Jones.

“I just saw how dangerous Ukraine had got and how unsafe the space was. So, I just wanted to do my best to help out,” Mendoza said.

“It was just very saddening and I wanted to do my part,” he continued.

Students received the approval they needed, launching their fundraiser. They set up collections in the Oak cafeteria and in the school’s front office, also inviting classmates to place blue or yellow sticky-notes on their cafeteria window in the shape of the Ukrainian flag.

“They drove the whole fundraiser,” English/Language Arts teacher Maura Egan said of her students. “As their teacher and their teammate, I’m really impressed with what they’ve done.”

Mishra said they were initially skeptical of this process, worried that some would not take the crisis at hand seriously.

“Honestly, I was surprised at how many people donated and how many people cared,” they said. “It kind of changed my perspective.”

Students reflect as war continues

Fighting in Ukraine has continued in recent days and weeks.

Back in Shrewsbury, discussions continue, in kind, with students still aware of the situation.

For Mishra, that awareness is vital.

“We have a lot of things that other people would die for right now,” they said. “Having people recognize that is very crucial to having them understand how important the situation is and how dangerous it is.”

Many Ukrainian civilians have now spent over a month hiding from Russian missiles, artilery and bombs in underground shelters.

Above ground, those bombardments have decimated many of their cities.

“Nobody should live with that,” Mishra said.

The $1,500 raised by these students is being donated to United Help Ukraine.

Learn more about that organization at UnitedHelpUkraine.org.

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