WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The images coming out of Ukraine can evoke feelings of pain and helplessness, and that goes especially for people with family and friends there.

“You feel like something went around your rib cage and started tightening behind that you can’t even breathe,” Vira Koldyk said. “I just wish I could give my mom a hug.”

Koldyk’s life is in Warwick with her husband and twin girls, but the rest of her family is back home in Ukraine. She said her 76-year-old mother is seeking shelter with her dog.

“She doesn’t feel safe in the shelters because they were targeted,” Koldyk said.

Koldyk’s older sister evacuated the country with her teenage daughters, but her husband and son stayed behind to fight.

“They didn’t even bother packing anything. They just grabbed their laptops and backpacks,” she said.

Those items, fortunately, allow for texts and video calls, assuring Koldyk that her family is safe.

“Some people were saying you can even smell the war, you smell gun powder, you smell death,” Koldyk added. “It’s nerve-wracking”

Koldyk said she can often hear it in the background.

“The whole body just shakes immediately when you hear the explosion,” she added.

But what’s worse, according to Koldyk, are the seven-hour time difference and the deafening hours of silence while Ukraine sleeps and she wonders.

“When I saw those pictures of that military convoy for miles and miles and miles approaching my city where my mom, my friends, my church, my nephew, my brother-in-law … I immediately sent prayers,” Koldyk said.

In addition to prayers, the people of Ukraine needs provisions too. A number of organizations are collecting money for the relief efforts.