Originally aired/published on First Coast News on March 11, 2022.
By Kailey Tracy
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The United Nations estimates that more than four million Ukrainian refugees will eventually seek safety abroad from their country.
Right now, according to the UN, over two and a half million people have fled Ukraine since the war started, and some of them are coming to the First Coast.
Lori Weber, Regional Director for Catholic Charities Jacksonville, said they're expecting about 35 refugees from Ukraine in the coming weeks.
She said that number could change, though.
"Given the changing environment over there, we fully suspect we will be getting a lot more, so we're just waiting to hear and monitoring that on a daily basis," Weber said. "It's literally a minute by minute event," she said.
"Our refugee resettlement team is really just preparing for as many as we think we can possibly take on at this point," Weber said.
Catholic Charities helps set up refugees in apartments, helps them get jobs, helps with health care, utilities, mental health services and anything else they may need to get settled.
"For anyone also that's interested, I think it's important to educate yourself about who these refugees are, why they're coming here and what they're doing because we're on a path of getting any refugee self-sufficient, and with the Ukrainians as an example, again, 90 days to self-sufficiency," Weber said.
Staff and volunteers are organizing donations at the Providence Center at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception located in downtown Jacksonville. Weber said they're in need of just about everything, including toiletries, clothes, furniture, toys for children, diapers and volunteers.
You can drop off donations at the Center located at 134 East Church Street Tuesdays and Thursdays from nine a.m. to noon.
Weber said the donations are also for Afghan refugees. They've placed about 200 to date.
"We're anticipating there too that we will be getting more additional refugees coming in from Afghanistan as well. They're still going through all of their experiences too, so both of those programs are working simultaneously," she said.
You can find Catholic Charities Jacksonville's wish list, and more information about how to donate on its website.