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South Coast non-profit hits $500 million mark in aid for Ukraine, and Ukrainian refugees

Emergency medical shipments from Direct Relief arrive at a distribution center located in central Ukraine.
Charity Fund Modern Village and Town
Emergency medical shipments from Direct Relief arrive at a distribution center located in central Ukraine.

Direct Relief President/CEO looks at ongoing medicine, and medical supply aid needs as he meets with officials in Ukraine and Poland.

The war in Ukraine is no longer the lead story on the news every night.
But, the fighting continues, and the humanitarian crisis still exists on a massive scale.

A Santa Barbara based relief group has now helped get more than $500 million in medicine, and medical related supplies to people in the region.

Direct Relief President, and CEO Thomas Tighe spent the last week in Ukraine, and Poland looking at what type of support is needed next.

He said they’ve sent an unprecedented amount of aid in a relatively short period of time.

"For Direct Relief, it's been the largest flow of material in our 75 years," said Tighe. "There's been 108 deliveries, and 850 tons."

Tighe talked about the specific types of aid Direct Relief has helped provide.

"It's been everything from specialized cancer therapies to body bags, and prenatal vitamins," said Tighe.

KCLU News caught up with Tighe in Krakow, Poland, where he was meeting with Polish officials about the ongoing refugee crisis.

Poland has taken the lion’s share of the Ukrainian refugees, with the latest estimates in the 1.5 to 2 million range. Direct Relief has been helping there with a program to help provide those who are displaced with needed prescription drugs.

Tighe said the situation has become more difficult for non-profit groups. While many people rallied to support Ukrainians in the early stages of the crisis, as it’s dropped from the headlines, support has been harder to get.

He said it’s been like running a marathon, as the crisis stretch on, and on. But he said they work hard to turn around requests for medicine, and medical supplies and get the needed items to the region quickly.

Tighe said the ongoing mission in Europe comes on top of Direct Relief’s commitment to helping with other emergencies. In the last week, the non-profit committed $250,000 to help with victims of the recently flooding in Kentucky.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.