By Marianne Garvey

(CNN) – Hayden Panettiere, who shares a 7-year-old daughter with former Ukrainian professional boxer Wladimir Klitschko, has launched a relief fund for those fighting to defend Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Panettiere launched Hoplon International, an organization that aims to raise critical funds for medical supplies and protective gear for Ukrainians.

Klitschko’s brother, Vitali Klitschko, is the mayor of Kiev.

Although her daughter is safe and not currently in Ukraine, Panettiere tells CNN she cannot “continue to sit on the sidelines” and watch people suffer in the country where she has friends and family.

“There are no words to describe what it has been like to watch the war in Ukraine unfold,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to know that Ukrainians, people I call my friends and family, are desperately trying to defend their way of life in a country they love.”

The name of the relief organization has historical significance.

“Hoplons were shields employed by the ancient Greeks. In this spirit, Hoplon International is channeling the support of the global community to the front lines in Ukraine, where outnumbered, outgunned and largely civilian forces are struggling to defend their country, their way of life, and their fellow citizens,” reads the organization’s mission statement.

Panettiere said she started the organization to ensure aid is delivered directly and quickly to where it is needed most.

“I have personally witnessed the strength of the Ukrainian people who fought so hard for their independence and continued to passionately defend their country over the years,” the ‘Nashville’ actress wrote. on social media in February. “I ask those of us who cannot be there to stand side by side in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and show our support for #democracy.”

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