SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – A picture that continues to be painted for us here in the U.S., Ukrainians trying to escape the Russian invasions, seeking refuge in neighboring countries, including Hungary. As the humanitarian crisis unfolds in Ukraine, western Massachusetts residents with ties are speaking on the dire situation.

“I can’t see these people suffering on TV, I can’t stand still, I need to do something.”

Maria Laplante of South Hadley has been living in the US for 18 years. She is from Nyiregyhaza, Hungary, 40 Miles away from Ukraine. Many of her friends and family still there.

“When this invasion started, my phone started to blow up,” Laplante said. “I started to receive worrying phone calls from my friends and family.”

As Ukrainian refugees flee to nearby countries, Laplante says her friends in Hungary have been aiding those crossing the border. She says they spend what little savings that have to buy food, arrange transportation from the border, volunteer to set up and manage shelters, and even taking them in to their homes.

When asked what people who live far away in the US can do, Laplante said, “That’s how I felt at first. I didn’t know what to do, and I can’t sit still, I feel like I need to do something. All I can do is donate and send money to those people who are at the region and helping right now, right there.”

Laplante now makes it her mission to do what she can to help Ukrainians from western Massachusetts, devoting her time to raise money to help anyone taking care of those fleeing from the Russian invasion.

“I go to sleep with this, I wake up with this, I am glued to the tv, social media sites,” Laplante told 22News. “I can’t think about anything else the last five days. I can’t really think about anything else but these people who are suffering from this senseless war.”

Laplante says there are some social media accounts created to help support Ukrainian refugees. If you are interested in helping Ukrainian refugees, here are some resources to help you get started in search of charities.

Here are some charities that you can safely donate to:

If you want to help Maria Laplante in her fundraiser to help people fleeting from Ukraine, you can donate to her GoFundMe here.