Morris County Donates 100 Bullet-Proof Vests to Ukraine
“You are going to win this war because you are not relying on your weapons. You are relying on your hearts and souls,” Director Selen said.
Morris County Law Enforcement yesterday donated 100 bullet-proof vests and 2,000-millennium gas masks to the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey (UACCNJ) in Whippany, where Ukrainian fighters thanked Morris County via a pre-recorded video.
The delivery was made yesterday morning, Aug. 24, the Ukrainian Independence Day – which marks the August 24, 1991, Declaration of Independence by Ukraine from the United Socialist Soviet Republic (Russia)
Yesterday also marked six months since Russian forces invaded the European nation, triggering a war that continues to claim innocent lives and wreak havoc across Ukraine.
“We would like to say thanks to Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, Morris County Sheriff’s Office … and the people of Morris County for your constant support of Ukraine and your generous donation. Your donations not only provide us with the necessary protection (from) injury, but also assures us we are not alone in this fight for democracy of the entire world,” said an unidentified Ukrainian commander in a video statement shared today by the UACCNJ.
Roksolana Leshchuk, Chairwoman of the UACCNJ, shared the video during an emotional ceremony at the center, where she and others expressed heartfelt gratitude to the people of Morris County as they also described the day-to-day struggles of the Ukrainian people.
“It was all possible because of you, because people of Morris County - regular Americans - feel our pain. They feel what we are going through. They understand democracy,” Leshchuk said. “It’s unimaginable. I don’t know how to express my gratitude and the gratitude of our center, and the people of Ukraine. It’s not enough. I don’t have words to tell you how much appreciation we have. This is helping us to live through another day.”
During the delivery of vests and gas masks, dozens of Ukrainian American community members greeted county law enforcement, reading poems and playing Ukrainian songs.
“Prosecutor Carroll and I each share in the fervent hope that our joint donation of these potentially lifesaving bullet-resistant vests quickly reach our friends in Ukraine, but also that they all go untested by their eventual recipients. I am thankful that was the case when our officers and detectives donned them in their service to this county. May peace return to all in Ukraine very soon,” said Sheriff Gannon.
At the delivery and public announcement of these donations, Deputy Director Krickus noted that the county discovered a great deal while organizing this donation – particularly about navigating the intricacies of federal reviews when sending support and materials to the people of Ukraine. Krickus and others involved in the effort worked with U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill to secure federal permissions to provide the “non-military” assistance.
“From the day this unprovoked war started, Morris County stood with -- and stands now -- with Ukraine. We are proud of the team effort by the county prosecutor, county sheriff, county administration, and Congresswoman Sherrill’s office in making this donation happen, and we will share our ‘how-to-knowledge’ with other counties, so hopefully more donations can take place,” Krickus said.
“When I visited Ukraine last month, I was proud to tell President Zelensky about the incredible support he and the Ukrainian people have from our community in NJ-11. This donation is a wonderful example of this support, and I thank the Morris County Commissioners and the Prosecutor’s and Sheriff’s Offices for making it possible. I am grateful my team was able to help navigate the federal agencies involved and I would love to see this effort replicated across the state and country,” said U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill.
Securing federal export permissions, as well as gathering the body armor and gas masks, took weeks.
Commissioner Krickus had discussed the donation week ago with Natalya Pipa, a Ukraine Member of Parliament when she visited the Whippany cultural center. Gathering vests and other equipment was still ongoing at this time, and the Ukraine representative was very receptive to the proposal, according to Krickus.
“She told me that the dividing line between democracy and dictatorships used to be the Iron Curtain. Today, it’s between the Ukraine and Russia,” Commissioner Krickus said.