Wilton man helps send sports equipment to Ukrainian children

Wilton man helps send sports equipment to Ukrainian children

Since, he and his wife Katherine began fundraising to support AICDL, the non-governmental organization he spent time with helping Ukranian refugees cross the Romanian border into Siret. As of June 3, the fundraising total has amassed nearly $33,000 from 144 donors.

Those funds have been sent in waves to the NGO for different refugee needs over the past several months, but Ioana Urzica, leader of AICDL, requested one more donation to make sure the children under her watchful eye are afforded more ‘normal’ circumstances.

On May 31, a bulk shipment of sporting goods for the Ukranian children was received by Urzica thanks to adonation of more than $5,300 from Lentner’s fund. Ping pong tables, hula hoops, soccer balls and nets were just some of the recreational equipment delivered to the NGO.

“That was the last traunch of cash,” Lentner said of his fundraising efforts.

Urzica said Friday that the idea came from a desire for the children she oversees to feel a sense of normalcy while they are displaced from their home. Instead of staying inside, she said, they should be afforded the opportunity to play outside with other children, including local Romanians.

“We are trying in this moment to make them cooperate with the Romanian children, to create connections,” Urzica said, hoping that they would foster relationships through friendly competition in sports and other recreational activities. “For them to feel like normal children.”

Different games have been organized since the drop-off for the children to romp and play outdoors, just as Urzica intended.

While some of the children were displaced with their families, some are on their own as their parents are “on the front lines” as paramedics or with the military, Urzica said.

AICDL is currently overseeing the physical and emotional wellbeing of 67 children, as well as 25 adults.

In many cases, Urzica explained, the children she is caring for “are not poor children.” They come from average households in Ukraine and are now faced with very limited resources. AICDL helps organize their temporary, or in some cases permanent, schooling in Romania while war is ongoing in their home country.

While the sporting equipment was a boon for Urzica, she still said that there is an ongoing demand for food, and that need won’t soon change.

Urzica thanked Lentner, as well as the others who have donated their time, money and effort to aid in what she feels is her mission.

“This is something personal for me,” Urzica said. “I will not give up.”

Lentner said that finding Urzica has been like “finding a needle in a haystack” and lauded her selflessness and passion.

“We have demonstrated that good people can change the world,” Urzica said. “They they can do good things and that they can mobilize to do better things. So that is why I am very blessed to meet these wonderful people.”