Mission to help Ukrainian refugees is personal for Atlanta woman

ATLANTA — Nicole File is all about family and where they are from.

“My great-grandfather was Ukrainian. So was his wife,” File said.

Yakov Yurchenko was an Orthodox priest. 100 years after his death, Ukrainians fight for survival.

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File is doing all she can to help. She operates the Atlanta nonprofit Softer Streets. They give inflatable sleeping mats to people who are homeless.

Now, mats are being sent half a world away to refugees in Ukraine. Another local charity, the humanitarian aid group Map International, is distributing them by the hundreds.

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File’s inspiration in this effort is her great-grandfather. He spent the last years of his life in a Soviet gulag in Siberia.

“His last words that he got to his wife were smuggled out on a tiny piece of paper. It was wrapped in communion bread, which was part of the portion he was given to eat, which wasn’t much. On that piece of paper was written in pencil, ‘Bless God every day. Get the children to America if you can.’ That’s why I’m an American,” Nicole said.

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Klymit is the camping equipment company that makes the mats. Through May 30, they are donating 5% of their online sales to the Ukrainian relief effort. You can learn more about Softer Streets here on its website.

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