With a mission to serve children worldwide, Rhinelander Kiwanis club looks to help Ukraine
Relief effort organizer hopes to sent $10,000 in aid
By Eileen Persike
RHINELANDER – A Rhinelander service organization is partnering with its European counterparts to help people half a world away.
Russia’s invasion into Ukraine a month ago has brought devastating news reports, video and photos to homes throughout much of the world – on a daily basis. It has left many people, including those in the Northwoods, feeling helpless, wanting to do something, but unsure of how and where to begin.
The Rhinelander Kiwanis Club, part of an international organization, is answering those questions by providing a path for community members to help the people of Ukraine.
“Our mission,” said Kiwanian Ryan Hetland, “Is to change the world one community and one child at a time.”
Hetland said he began looking for a way to help Ukrainians after reading an inspirational message sent to him by a friend a couple weeks ago. Quoting the late South African theologian Desmond Tutu, the message read, “Do a little bit of good where you are. It is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
That was followed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s virtual address to Congress, which Hetland said was very compelling.
“I reached out to some people and said, ‘We need to do something. What are you doing?’ I got crickets,” Hetland said. “Everybody said we should do something but nobody had a suggestion.”
So he reached even further.
“Believe it or not, I worked directly with the president of Kiwanis International-Europe,” Hetland said.
Despite language barriers, a partnership of sorts between Rhinelander and European clubs was formed.
“The outreach has been unbelievable,” Hetland said. “They have a path in place and everyone is helping, and now we are, too. We’re going to fund them and we’re going to get money there. One hundred percent, [the donations will] get from Northern Wisconsin to Ukraine.”
He added, “Most people around here have no idea where Ukraine is; most Ukrainians have no idea where Wisconsin is. Let’s change that.”
Hetland said he believes the community can raise $10,000 to help the Ukrainian people. Donations of $100 or more will receive a T-shirt.
The Rhinelander club will be sending 100% of the money donated locally to the Kiwanis Luxembourg Foundation in Europe. This foundation is the funding source of Kiwanis Clubs in Eastern Europe that border Ukraine to help them provide food, shelter and clothing for Ukrainians.
Donations are being accepted at local businesses, including Peoples State Bank in Rhinelander, YMCA of the Northwoods, LaSalle St. Securities, Animal Health Care Center, Habitat for Humanity ReStore and Ripco Credit Union. Checks may be mailed to Rhinelander Kiwanis, PO Box 613 in Rhinelander, or see the club’s GoFundMe site for online donations. A link to that site can be found on the Kiwanis Club of Rhinelander Facebook page.
Editor’s note: As of this posting, the GoFundMe account has not been fully set up. Please check back.