SUNY Canton Educational Opportunity Program Steps Up with Aid for Ukraine


A fundraiser spearheaded by SUNY Canton’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) has collected numerous donations to help the citizens and refugees of war-torn Ukraine.

EOP Director Walvi DeJesus said his staff and their students decided to help as a tribute to the ideals of Arthur O. Eve, a former politician and architect of SUNY EOP.

EOP Counselor Jessica Barstow speaks with Ryan Duester at a table to collect donations for Ukraine.
SUNY Canton Educational Opportunity Program Counselor Jessica R. Barstow speaks with Criminal Investigation major Ryan A. Duester of Baldwinsville at a table to collect donations for Ukraine.

“We have taken the lead on campus to collect needed items for the relief efforts,” DeJesus said. “We put out the call to the SUNY Canton community and have even received local support for this effort.”

EOP stand in front of a truck filled with supplies for Ukraine.
Pictured (l to r) are SUNY Canton Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Director Walvi DeJesus, EOP Counselor Jessica R. Barstow, Donation Organizer Brenda H. Sipher of Chaumont, SUNY Canton Applied Psychology major Johanna Velasquez Garcia of Canton, EOP Counselor Keith D. Mitchell, and retired area optometrist Robert N Saidel with a truckload of donations for Ukrainian refugees.

EOP Counselor Jessica R. Barstow said that students and staff had collected about 40 bags of clothing in addition to toiletries and other supplies during their two-week drive. The relatively new college employee reached out to Laura Lee Taylor of Treasure’s Cove, a thrift store in downtown Potsdam, who provided a substantial portion of the donations.

“I think after everything we’ve been through as a society that it's more important than ever to give back when we are able,” Barstow said. “So many people have volunteered to make this happen. It takes a lot of effort to create the supply chains necessary to get the items to those who can benefit from them.”

The college worked through Brenda H. Sipher a realtor from Chaumont, and a member of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors office in Watertown to establish a means of transporting the goods overseas. Sipher will come collect the goods on Wednesday and transport them to the Watertown Fairgrounds. They will then be sent to the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey and then shipped to Poland, according to organizers.

Roody waves a Ukraine flag in the plaza.
Roody waves the flag of Ukraine in the plaza.

Russia invaded Ukraine almost two months ago creating a conflict that has led to about 40,000 deaths, and 21,000 injuries, according to Reuters. Nearly 11 million people have been displaced, and 4.6 million Ukrainians have left their home country to seek refuge from the war.

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.