An anonymous local Quaker donor gave $1,500 as matching funds to quickly raise money for civilian victims of the senseless war by Russia on Ukraine.
That donation was rapidly turned into $4,300 and sent to Ukrainian agencies specializing in civilian relief. The receiving agencies are: Razom (humanitarian assistance), Ukrainian Red Cross, Malteser International (evacuation assistance), Caritas (humanitarian assistance) and Libereco (evacuation and medical assistance).
Quakers or the Religious Society of Friends have a long history of opposing war and providing services to victims of war.
In the 1700s they vowed to avoid participation in war and work for peace. Altruistic activity began in the U.S. by supporting Native Americans and efforts to stop slavery and assist coal miners. British Quakers started by providing food, clothing and other materials for civilian victims during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1875) in central Europe.
World War I found the British Quakers aggressively doing altruistic work with both military personnel and civilian victims – but not carrying weapons. It was during this war that the American Friends Service Committee was founded in the U.S. and 14 local Quaker men served mostly in France with civilians (12 were Wilmington College students). Their names are inscribed on a plaque next to the Wilmington College Library on the campus.
This altruistic activity by Quakers was continued during WWII and, with the British Quakers, they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957, the only religious organization to receive that honor.
Currently, the local Friends/Quaker office on the Wilmington College Campus is receiving donations for Merefa, the Ukraine sister city to Wilmington established in 2013. Earlier this month this city of twenty-some thousand was hit by Russian missiles, killing 26 and destroying the school and cultural center. The funds are to assist in rebuilding.
Neil Snarr is Professor Emeritus at Wilmington College.