Montpelier, Vt. – At a candlelight vigil Tuesday, Governor Phil Scott signed H.717, An act relating to providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine and announced more than $640,000 of aid will go to Save the Children, a humanitarian organization dedicated to supporting children around the globe.
“We are here today to send a message to the people of Ukraine and to the tyrant in Russia: We stand united with Ukraine – for its freedom, and with its people,” Governor Scott said in his remarks. “The fact is, Ukraine’s fight to protect their people, their rights and their land – and what that means for democracies across the globe – is too important for us to sit out. We must do our part.”
Governor Scott signed the bipartisan bill, which passed unanimously, joined by Lt. Governor Molly Gray, Treasurer Beth Pearce, Attorney General TJ Donavan, Secretary of State Jim Condos, House Speaker Jill Krowinski, Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint, minority leaders Senator Randy Brock and Representative Pattie McCoy, legislators from all parties and the people of Vermont.
“In moments like this, it is easy to feel helpless and hopeless watching the suffering of innocent civilians several time zones away in Ukraine,” said Lt. Governor Gray. “Putin’s actions not only threaten the very institutions and laws Russia and the international community came together to establish after World War II to prevent human suffering, but also international peace and security as we know it. Tonight’s vigil and the signing of H.717, an appropriation of more than $640,000 in humanitarian aid to support the people of Ukraine is more than just a bipartisan act of kindness, it is an act of unity as Vermonters, Americans, and citizens of the world.”
Vermont Youth Orchestra members Justin Lee (violin 1), Emma Xia (violin 2), Elizabeth Messier (viola) and Jonah Hutchin (cello) performed at the vigil. You can view video of the vigil and ceremony at facebook.com/GovPhilScott and click here for a transcript of Governor Scott’s remarks.
“Tonight, we stand 4,435 miles away from the capital of Ukraine – but signing Vermont’s Ukrainian humanitarian aid bill and echoing the voices of Vermonters in their support of the people of Ukraine is one small way we can bring ourselves closer and stand together with Ukrainians,” said Speaker Krowinski. “We are a small state, but our voices can and will be heard. I hope this effort to support the Ukrainian people will make a difference in their fight for a free and democratic society.”
“I’ve been hearing from people across the state who are inspired by the resolve of the Ukrainian people and devastated by the violence they see happening,” said Senator Balint. “In the face of authoritarian aggression, Vermonters want to see unity across partisan lines at home in support of our democratic ideals. They want to know that their leaders can come together in times of crisis. I’m happy to join with the Speaker and the Governor to do our small part to show that we stand with the people of Ukraine, and that this attack on democracy is unacceptable.”
The State will contribute aid to Save the Children to support its efforts in Ukraine, which include responding to the health, nutrition and educational needs of displaced children, protecting them and their families from harm, supporting access to shelter and more.
Governor Scott has talked with the CEO of Save the Children, who verified that the organization has a presence in Ukraine and surrounding areas, relationships with key partners and experienced staff. This will ensure the Vermont aid will have a maximum benefit for Ukrainians.
On March 3, Governor Scott signed an Executive Order expressing support for the Ukrainian people and outlining steps the State would take in response to the Russian invasion of peaceful Ukraine, which included a request to the Vermont Legislature to pass a bill appropriating one dollar for every Vermonter for humanitarian efforts needed to support the people of Ukraine.
The Legislature acted quickly to pass H.717, allocating a total of $644,826; $643,077 representing one dollar from every Vermonter and $1,749 equaling the total amount of funds collected by the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery for the sale of Russian-sourced products from the start of the invasion to the date Governor Scott directed the state to discontinue the sale of these products.
Additionally, the Vermont National Guard and Vermont law enforcement agencies are coordinating an effort to donate used and expired body-armor vests to military units in Ukraine.