SHELBY, Mich. (WOOD) — As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, forcing millions to leave their homes, many in West Michigan are wondering how they can help. One woman has launched an effort to show support that you can join.

Laura McMurry of Shelby was scrolling on Facebook and saw her friend Adam Israel on the Ukraine-Poland border, helping families get across and secure food and shelter. She knew then she wanted to help, too.

The United Nations estimates more than 2 million people have fled Ukraine, trying to get to safety, as Russian forces continue their assault.

When McMurry asked her friend how she could help, his answer was simple.

“Collect letters and get them to me over there,” he told her.

It’s called Letters of Hope, a project started in Saratoga, New York, that McMurray is bringing to West Michigan.

“You can write a letter to a child, a family, a man or woman or a soldier, words of hope,” McMurry said. “And you can include $10 to $20 in the letter, and they can use U.S. dollars over there.”

Many of the letters have been from kids.

“I’ve seen ones from children who say, ‘I’m so sorry you can’t live at your home anymore, and I’m thinking about you and hoping you can go home soon,’” McMurry said.

McMurry will forward the letters abroad during the first week of April.

“They can send them to me, and I’m going to pack up a whole big box hopefully of those and send them to Adam in Poland,” she said.

Israel has been working on the border since last Sunday. McMurry said he has been using donations to buy medical supplies, hotel rooms, clothing and “whatever the Ukrainians need.”

McMurry started her effort on Monday and she’s thrilled by the response so far.

“A lot of people have said, ‘I’ve been wondering what to do, I want to know how to help; you’ve given me a way to do this, this will be wonderful, I’m sharing it with my family,’” she said.

After the first shipment in April, McMurry expects to send another package of letters abroad as the war goes on.

“I think it will just give them some hope that the world is thinking of them and cares about them,” McMurry said.

You can send a letter to:

Laura McMurry
Letters of Hope
P.O. Box 2
Shelby, MI 49455