lois pope

24 Mar For children fleeing Ukraine, a generous embrace from halfway across the world

Shannon Donnelly
Palm Beach Daily News

Ukrainian families and children are crossing the border into neighboring countries to escape conflict.
Manalapan philanthropist Lois Pope is like millions of other Americans — broken-hearted at the images of terrified Ukrainian children gripping the hands of their mothers as they flee into the freezing night.

And she’s doing something about it — in a big, big way.

“I couldn’t sit idly by in the comfort of my own home when the plight of these children is so perilous,” she said.

To that end, she donated $1 million to Save the Children, the global humanitarian organization working to meet the needs of children and families fleeing the escalating violence in Ukraine.

The gift will establish a fund called Lois’ Care for Refugees and is earmarked specifically for children impacted by the Ukraine crisis by providing them with food, water, hygiene products, medicine and other humanitarian assistance.

“What these innocent children are now going through, being ripped from the safety of the only homes they know by a war they cannot really comprehend, is devastating,” said Pope.

“Their needs are so great, from food and clean water to medicine and health care products. My goal in creating this fund to support Save the Children is to help meet these needs today and moving forward throughout this humanitarian crisis.”

Pope said she hopes her action gift to motivates others with the financial means to respond in similar ways to what could become Europe’s worst humanitarian and refugee crisis in decades.

“There are more than enough high-net-worth people here in Palm Beach County and across the country who have the capacity to make significant contributions that would be life-saving for these children,” she said. “I’m urging my friends and peers to open their hearts, as well as their pocketbooks and wallets for the cause. How can you not do so when you see the photos and videos of these desperate children?”

Luciana Bonifacio, chief development officer for Save the Children, described the gift as “much needed.”

“Save the Children expresses its deepest gratitude for Mrs. Pope’s much-needed support during this time of crisis in Ukraine,” Bonifacio said. “This generous gift will help us protect children from harm, and provide immediate assistance to children and their families who are in grave danger across Ukraine and the region,” she added.

Pope said she plans on traveling to the area in the next two months to see her gift in action.

“Yes, I’m able to write a big check, but I’m hands-on. I want to be there; to volunteer to distribute food and supplies to these children,” she said,

“As a mother and grandmother myself, I can’t imagine not wanting to help.”