Goochland County neighbors started a nonprofit to outfit Ukrainian civilians-turned-soldiers and relief workers with protective gear donated by police departments across the state.
“You’re saving lives,” Alexandra Blagova told Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith, who announced on Thursday the department was donating 280 retired body-armor vests.
Blagova, who lives in Goochland, is a native Ukrainian raised in Lviv, a city in the western part of the besieged country. She still has family there, as well as in the Ukrainian capital, “Kyiv, Odesa, all over the place,” whom she is worried about as Russian forces invaded and bombed parts of her home country.
She is also the secretary, treasurer and logistical adviser for Lift Up Ukraine, a nonprofit founded by neighbors Levin White and Ausrine Zargorodna. Zargorodna is Lithuanian, but her husband is from Ukraine, and his family is still there, she said.
Shortly after the Feb. 24 invasion, Blagova, White and Zargorodna started raising money and collecting donations to send protective gear to Ukrainian civilians, who decided to stay and defend their homes, and medical supplies to humanitarian relief workers.