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Buoyed by a donation of 5,000 pounds of medical supplies, leaders of Salt Lake City's sister city in Ukraine have sent a thank-you note back with a Utahn who delivered the goods.

Leaders of the sister city, Chernovtsy, with a population of about 250,000, also invited Mayor Deedee Corradini to visit their city. But a spokesman for the mayor said Corradini won't be able to visit the city this year nor will financially strapped Salt Lake City be able to help using tax money.But a massive effort to encourage private donations earlier this year gave Chernovtsy more than officials expected, said Iza Shimanovich, a former Moldova resident who now lives in Salt Lake City.

Chernovtsy's mayor sent an urgent telegram to the Salt Lake mayor in December, asking for a donation of supplies. But Salt Lake City budgets only $10,000 each year for relations with its five sister cities, and that money is intended for ceremonial functions, not humanitarian aid.

Shimanovich worked with the Utah Committee for American-Soviet Relations, a local non-profit group, to gather donations. After the Deseret News reported the need for supplies, he ended up with expensive medical machines from local doctors and dentists, medicine and baby food, among other things.

A Boy Scout in West Bountiful decided to make Chernovtsy's plight a project to help him achieve the rank of Eagle. The supplies he collected filled a large box.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Intermountain Health Care Corp., and St. Mark's Hospital also donated supplies.

"I thought there would not be much response because of the recession," Shimanovich said. "But it was tremendous."

By the end of February, the shipment was ready.

Fritz Companies Inc., an air-freight forwarding company, donated the shipping costs, overcoming logistical confusion caused by the political unrest. The items were flown to Frankfurt, Germany, and trucked to Chernovtsy. As a safety precaution, arrangements were made for customs agents to inspect the shipment after it arrived in the city, not at the border.

Shimanovich took several photographs of the shipment being unloaded. He wants people to know their donations reached the intended destination. Chernovtsy officials distributed the items, and Shimanovich said local television stations and newspapers made a big deal about the shipment.

"Everyone knows where the stuff came from," he said. "They really appreciate what Salt Lake residents did."

The Utah Committee for American-Soviet Relations plans to send more supplies, but officials don't know when. Shimanovich said he has to return attention to his job as a computer technician at Cottonwood Hospital for a while. He said the committee is making plans to send 18 local doctors, dentists and other professionals to Chernovtsy later this year.

Thom Dillon, executive assistant to the mayor, said the city can't afford any more than the $10,000 it provides. It may have difficulty finding that much, considering the city expects to have a $4.2 million deficit by June.

"That's just not the kind of thing we can afford to do now," he said. "The public budget hearing would go nuts over something like that."


Letter of thanks

The translation of a letter sent by leaders of Chernovtsy to Utahns:

"Chernovtsy, its medical personnel and people, expresses sincere gratitude for your sympathy and mercy. Help provided by you means respect to our people, an act of approval of the changes that are happening in our society and a gesture of humanitarianism. The medical supplies and tools sent to us will help our doctors get over the difficulties we are experiencing now."

(Additional information)