MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – In 2018, the Ampe family adopted two little boys with down syndrome from Ukraine.

5-year-old Cazimir and 4-year-old Henrik now live in Marquette with their adoptive family. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has displaced many Ukrainians and their access to basic resources, including Cazimir and Henrik’s biological families.

“We feel very blessed to have them. We’re connected at least to Henrik’s family very closely and are trying to show support to the people that gave us our sons in a sense,” said Tiffany Ampe, adoptive mother of Cazimir and Henrik. “Their biological families wanted to keep them but were unable to keep them because of resources. That wasn’t a problem we could solve. We couldn’t invent pediatric occupational therapists or a social system that would integrate them into schools and things of that nature, but we can address this need and we can help them during this time.”

When Henrik’s biological family reached out to the Ampes that they were in desperate need of supplies in Ukraine, the Ampes took action.

“So we had to navigate this really difficult relationship of absolute tragedy and mourning but looking for restoration. And now to navigate another tragedy where [Henrik’s biological mother] and her husband are caught in a war. They’re simply civilians trying to stay alive, and she doesn’t talk about grandiose plans they just want to plant their garden next week. They want to be able to go to work and not be worried they’ll be killed. She wants her husband home. Even in his mid-40s he’s been drafted and has no military experience, no equipment, but he’s serving. And those are the dreams we share with them and we want to support.”

Now the Ampes need your help to donate medical supplies. Tiffany’s husband, Joe, will be flying to Poland in the coming weeks to connect with two other adoptive dads that are bringing aid across the border into Ukraine.

“A very small amount will be going to Henrik’s family, we’ve already covered for that. We paid for the plane tickets. What we’re asking for help on is filling these other bags, eight of them, to have the ten bags full that we can take on our humanitarian flight. All of those are going to one particular hospital where we have a connection with an ER physician,” said Ampe.

One of the people who is helping to make this all possible is Tiffany’s friend, Jenny Stoudt, who is assisting with online efforts for Ukraine aid.

“Like a lot of people I think, I’ve been watching what’s been happening in Ukraine unfold and I’ve felt powerless or not confident that anything I might do would actually get to the people who need help in time. And so, just to be a small part of this just feels tremendous to finally do something for aid to go to people whose names and faces I can actually know,” said Stoudt.

St. John and St. Joseph parishes in Ishpeming are also stepping in to support these efforts.

“So every year in Lent, we do a Lenten almsgiving campaign in our parishes in Ishpeming. The invasion into Ukraine began right before Lent, so we’ve kind of added this as another option for people to donate to,” said Father Ryan Ford. “We didn’t know exactly what we were going to do with the money, Lent has a couple of weeks to go here before Easter. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to support something local, and the efforts of local people to bring these needed supplies into Ukraine. So we will be giving the money that we collect for the almsgiving campaign that’s earmarked for Ukraine Assistance to the Ampes and their effort to bring these supplies.”

How to donate to the Ampe family Ukraine aid efforts:

Joe Ampe will be making a second trip to Ukraine at the beginning of May to deliver more supplies. Volunteers are needed on Sunday, April 10 at 2 p.m at St. John’s Evangelist in Ishpeming to pack the suitcases with supplies. For more information, please contact Jenny Stoudt or Tiffany Ampe on the “Yoopers Love Ukrainians” Facebook group.