GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Ukrainian Americans from West Michigan are holding a fundraiser this week to help raise money for humanitarian relief.
Anna Kovalenko, an organizer of the benefit, has seen the impact the war has made on her own family and friends.
“I had to bring my mom here at the end of February, immigrated her, and my father is still in Ukraine and he is in the armed forces right now,” Kovalenko said.
The group partnering for the event is working to raise money for medical supplies and ambulances to treat the wounded.
“There are people who are dying right now and … there are so many people who want to help,” Kovalenko said. “Everybody who is a Ukrainian who lives abroad always thinks about, ‘What are other ways I can help and it feels like it’s never going to be enough.’”
The Art and Food of Ukraine Charity Fundraiser will be held in Grand Haven starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the 707 event space on Washington Avenue. It will feature authentic Ukrainian food, art and music. The owner of the Morning Star Cafe is providing the space free of charge and is also donating some of the ingredients.
“It’s very overwhelming because you never think, you never expect that people would be so kind. It makes me always emotional because it’s just really such kind people,” Kovalenko said.
Kovalenko is a co-founder of the Ukrainian Art Foundation, which will hold an auction.
“We thought that it would be cool to support artists who are in Ukraine and who are in need of help by selling their art here in the U.S.,” Kovalenko said.
The Ukrainian American Crisis Response Committee is partnering for the event and will auction off items donated by local businesses.
Oleksandra Soltinska is also working on the fundraiser. She previously worked with the Ukrainian community in Grand Rapids to send medical supplies to doctors treating the wounded.
“They give up their life, so we (are) trying to make money how we can. We already raised so many donations,” Soltinska said.
The group has held other fundraisers and hopes to raise money to help purchase ambulances to reach the wounded.
“The war is still there and the main fear is we’re just getting used to it. It’s becoming a normal part of our life,” Kovalenko said.
For more information on the fundraiser, visit the official Facebook page.