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Midway donors, students support Ukrainian hospitals

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Sarah Severson
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Wasatch County School District
After learning about how war is impacting Ukrainians, Midway Elementary students wave Ukrainian flags.

The Midway community has helped raise money to support hospitals in Ukraine. And students there are learning about the impacts of war.

Through ties in Midway, a northern Utah humanitarian group will send two electricity generators to hospitals in Ukraine where Russian attacks have caused major problems. The donations are the product of over $100,000 raised in and around the small city in the Heber Valley.

Robert Lochhead, who lives in Midway and is on the board of a nongovernmental organization called August Mission, was in Poland last fall when the idea formed. An advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and a Ukrainian city councilwoman told Lochhead and his wife generators can make a big impact.

“The Russians have been bombing the electric infrastructure all over Ukraine for some time now,” Lochhead said. “Particularly hospitals, when they lose power for extended periods of time, that can create a very dangerous situation. When we returned to Midway, we just kind of had the feeling that Midway has the resources and the people that would get behind this.”

The Lochheads and August Mission teamed up with community leaders, formed a committee and began fundraising.

Lochhead said a large chunk of the money came from Swiss Days, the annual Midway event that attracts over 100,000 visitors. More than half of the money came from individual donations.

“We just can't say enough good things about the people of Midway,” Lochhead said. “The contributions came not only from people of Midway, but through people and contacts that they had all over, but the spearhead was centered in Midway.”

Lochhead will help deliver the generators to two hospitals in the central Ukraine city Poltava. He said the effort could eventually produce four smaller generators for other hospitals in the country.

Those generators will come with something extra, courtesy of Midway Elementary School students.

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Wasatch County School District
Midway Elementary School students wave Ukrainian flags with their librarian and teacher Sally Baird.

This month, school librarian Sally Baird has led classes to teach students about Ukraine and the impacts of war on civilian lives. Last week, those kids made art they hoped would brighten the spirits of people in those Poltava hospitals.

Baird said that began with displaying a map of Ukraine. After showing photos of kids there playing in the snow, she segued into the hardships Ukrainians are facing.

She described how she taught the classes: “Unfortunately, right now the children in Ukraine can't play in the snow. They don't get to have these fun activities, and it's because of these three little letters that make up one big word, and then I just put up the word ‘war.’ We emphasized that war is when two groups of people fight against each other, and it is not the kids’ fault. The kids didn't cause the war, and they are affected by the war.”

She said the library lessons focused on the impacts of war itself — power outages, displacement, food shortage, people leaving their families to fight — but never on the politics of the countries involved.

After the lessons about what’s happening in Ukraine, the students made posters for the Poltava hospital walls.

“We got pictures of rainbows and of puppy dogs and of hearts because a heart is a universal language, meaning love,” Baird said. “It doesn't matter what language you speak, but that picture of a heart says that you love them. We have smiley faces and of course, the mountains, and even one little kid drew a stick figure of himself with his arms out wide, and tears are coming down his cheeks, and below it it says, ‘I wish I could give you a hug.’ And I think the children really felt connected to Ukraine.”

Like many in Midway, some of those students have volunteered at Swiss Days. Baird said for them to realize how the fruits of their labor helped raise money for those hospitals to have electricity was another life lesson about empathy for others.

Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.