HOLLAND, Mich. — At DesignWorks Interiors, support for Ukraine lines the shop’s exterior.
Outside the shop’s front door, there’s a box that is decorated with the Ukrainian flag and a plea to donate items to the people impacted by the war.
Other businesses in downtown Holland have the boxes placed outside their storefronts too.
“I put this box out at my home; I don’t think anybody would put anything in it, but being on the street here and having the connection of the traffic, it just allows there to be more awareness,” said Linda McCombs, who owns DesignWorks.
McCombs helped start the supply drive after she met a fellow business owner when she went to mail a package in March.
“I saw that this car next to me, it had a Ukrainian flag,” said McCombs. “A yellow-and-blue flag.”
Curious, McCombs asked the vehicle’s owner, Larissa Koedkyer, where she got it from only to soon learn that Koedkyer grew up in Ukraine and she was at the same store to send her loved ones goods that they had requested.
“Strangers are wonderful in your life,” said McCombs. “They open doors, so that’s what happened. Right time, right place.”
Koedyker owns BeCozi in Holland.
She immigrated to the United States in 2005 and described the first few weeks of the war as emotional until she chose to switch her mindset.
“I realized that there’s only as much we can all do,” said Koedyker. “So … that’s what I’ve concentrated my thinking and doing on.”
It took a while, but eventually the two strangers became partners in the effort.
This week, they distributed boxes to eight businesses in downtown Holland, but expect more to sign up over time. On Thursday, diapers, bandages and other supplies had already filled some of the boxes.
Koedyker and McCombs intended to ship boxes as needed through a business in New Jersey with ties to Ukraine, called Meest Express.
“As long as the war is on, they will have a need for all of this,” said Koedyker.
When the packages reach Ukraine, the pair hope it conveys the care felt in Holland.
“It’s actually really helpful, and just for the Ukrainian people to know that people in the United States care; that’s really important,” said Koedyker. “They can feel the support and they know that there are people who worry about them, who would like to give.”
“We get very preoccupied with our lives here and it’s understandable; there’s only so much we can handle every day, so it’s just a way of saying, ‘This is something much more concrete that we can do,’” said McCombs.
Participating stores include:
- jb and me
- Courtyard by Marriott Holland
- Simpatico Coffee
- Carolyn Stitch Studio
- Mayberry & Co
To see what’s needed, click here.