SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Students at Missouri State University (MSU) are stepping in to help children affected by the war in Ukraine. OzarksFirst learned how they’re doing their part.

MSU’s math 121 class is raising money for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and raising awareness about what’s happening in Ukraine. Freshman Bronson Frieling is helping lead this effort.

“A lot of people in other countries overlook things like this,” Frieling said. “Knowing that even a little bit can make a huge difference to people across the world to people I don’t even know is really important to me.”

Frieling tells OzarksFirst what’s happening in Ukraine is similar to another tragedy: September 11, 2001.

“If people on campus lived through 9/11 it’s just like that, but they’re living through it every single day. Getting hurt, losing family members, everything. Some people just overlook that. They’re in need right now and even a little bit can make a huge difference too.”

In his class, students create their own project for a service-learning credit. Their goal is to help at least one person gain access to education.

After some tabling events, students have raised more than $300 so far. The class is collecting money through a Venmo account called MTH121project.

Technically, the fundraiser ends when students take their final exam on May 16. But, teacher Patti Blanton says she’ll keep the fundraiser going if people continue to donate.

“This is an amazing group of students,” Blanton said. “I am so humbled and thrilled to see what they are accomplishing. It tells me that they’re going to go out and be really good citizens of the global society, which is part of the goal of the class.”

Blanton says her past classes have worked with K9s for Camo, a nonprofit that rescues shelter dogs and works with prison inmates who train the dogs to be service animals. Those animals then help military veterans struggling with PTSD. Blanton says another class of hers also helped pay for a girl’s education in Kenya, where girls often can’t go to school. 

“Thankfully we’ve had a variety of impactful projects, but I think this one might become my favorite. Just because this collection of students has really come together. They’ve stepped up and just done a great job with leadership.”

Freshman Juliette Robinson is the Ukraine project’s awareness manager. Robinson tells OzarksFirst it’s one thing to talk about what’s happening in Ukraine, but it’s more meaningful to actually try and help.

“I think a lot of the time people always talk and bring awareness to these social issues, but don’t actually take action,” Robinson said. “So now this is an opportunity for us as a class and us providing an opportunity to every MSU student to take action and actually do something about it.”

Robinson says it feels good to know what she’s doing is helping children in need.

“A lot of these children are losing a parent as well as not receiving education, food, water and shelter. I just feel so privileged and lucky to be in this situation where I am. All I can say is please donate because these children are going through something that I will never experience and hope to never experience.”

On Monday, May 2 from 3-4 p.m., MSU’s math 121 class will host a lecture with Maksym Kulik at Cheek Hall. Kulik is a Ukrainian who’s working in Poland to help refugees. He’ll Zoom in for the presentation and talk about his homeland and the current situation from his perspective. Anyone can go to the event.