Hayden Panettiere launches relief fund for people fighting to defend Ukraine: 'I can't continue to sit on the sidelines'

·2 min read

Hayden Panettiere is giving back to the people of Ukraine in a big way.

This week, the Nashville alum launched Hoplon International, an organization that's raising funds for medical supplies and protective gear for people fighting to defend Ukraine amid Russia's invasion.

In a video on the organization's YouTube page, the actress pleaded for people to help the citizens of Ukraine while speaking on the dyer need to support those fighting on the frontlines.

"There are no words to describe what it's been like to watch the war on Ukraine unfold," she said. "It's gut-wrenching knowing that the people of Ukraine and people I call my friends and family are desperately trying to defend their way of life and the country that they love.

"I created Hoplon International to bring relief and aid directly to Ukrainians on the frontlines," she continued. "I can't continue to sit on the sidelines just watching as this disaster rages on."

Panettiere's connection to Ukraine is personal.

The actress shares her 7-year old daughter Kaya with former partner, Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko. Klitschko's brother, Vitali Klitschko, is the mayor of Kyiv, the country's capital. Panettiere has confirmed that Kaya is currently safe in the United States.

Wladimir also delivered a video of his own, pleading for the community’s support.

"Hi, I'm Wladimir Klitschko from Kyiv, Ukraine," he said in the video. "Please support Hoplon International Foundation to stop Russian aggression. End war in Ukraine. Thank you."

The actress has vocalized her support for Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.

She took to Instagram on Feb. 25 to express her thoughts on the strength of the Ukrainian people: "I have personally witnessed the strength of the Ukrainian people who fought so hard for their independence and have continued to passionately defend their country over the years," she wrote.

"This horrific moment in history sends a terrifying message: the message that in this day and age, in year 2022, it's okay to violate the rights of free people and allow autocrats like Putin to take whatever they please. I'm praying for my family and friends there and everyone who’s fighting. I wish you had more support and I wish I was there fighting with you!"

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