Owings Mills Woman From Ukraine Gathers Essentials For Refugees Fleeing War
OWINGS MILLS - Victoria Clausen of Owings Mills has spent the past year doing more than running her floral events business. She has been raising money and collecting donations for Ukraine.
Clausen grew up in Dnipro, Ukraine, and moved to the United States in 1997. When the war started, she saw an opportunity to support her friends and family back in Ukraine.
"It just felt right to not leave them alone in this horrific war and to do whatever we can to help out."
In the Spring of 2022, Clausen started a financial drive to raise money for children fleeing Ukraine. She and her fellow volunteers raised over $110,000, which was spent on feeding refugees and purchasing evacuation vehicles. She says the amount of support was astounding.
"I'm just still overwhelmed. We were able to help with a lot of evacuations, feed tens of thousands of refugees, help get them to a safe place and support them while they were finding a place to land."
This fall, Clausen started a new drive collecting supplies, clothes, and hygiene products that are badly needed. As winter approaches and Russia continues its assault, many Ukrainians lack power and water access due to Russian strikes hitting power generation stations.
It can be challenging to get supplies into Ukraine, especially for an all-volunteer group based in Owings Mills. For Clausen, it is essential to ensure that the money she raises is spent where it is most needed.
"We don't take a single penny. I work directly with my friends and family in Ukraine," she said. "Every penny was spent on items that were really needed."
With the help of the Ukrainian Consulate in DC, Clausen sends her supplies to Poland, where her family picks them up and brings them into Ukraine. According to Clausen, this is the best way to ensure the supplies reach those in need.
"We only work with people that we know and trust with our life," she said. "We will know where every single piece is going to go and who's going to get it so that there is a guarantee that it's not going to be sold or somebody's going to profit from it."
She says some of the supplies Ukrainians need most right now are hygiene products such as shampoo and toothpaste. Ukrainians also need heat and power; supplies such as wood stoves or diesel generators help refugees cook and stay warm.
Clausen says the support from the Owings Mills and Baltimore communities has been incredible.
"I was hoping to get a few 1000 donations, and what we were able to do together turned out to be incredible," she said. "It's just beautiful to see people's hearts open up to a tragedy like this."
If you want to help Clausen support Ukraine, you can donate supplies at two Baltimore area locations.
- Victoria Clausen Floral Events, 9 Gwynns Mill Ct., Suite F, Owings Mills, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Floral Fêtes at Greenspring Station, 2360 W. Joppa Road., No. 104, Timonium, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.