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Night for Ukraine to raise money, show Alexandrians how to help

Ukrainian refugees make it to Poland (courtesy of Mary Leonard)

(updated at 5:30 p.m.) A Night for Ukraine organizers hope to raise $10,000 to go toward relief efforts in Ukraine and raise awareness at the event, which Alexandria businesses have rallied behind to support.

LOVE in ALX‘s Mary Leonard and local business owner Dominique Fakir put together the Friday night fundraiser for U.S.-based nonprofit CORE, Community Organized Relief Efforts. The nonprofit’s volunteers are working in Poland to address the immediate needs of Ukrainian refugees.

“(A Night in Ukraine) really is just an opportunity for people to plug in locally and then see how their efforts here actually affect change over there,” Fakir told ALXnow. “You always want to help but you don’t know how. So my hope was really to have this event to share stories about what’s happening on the ground and then how people can give either financially, support-wise, even spreading awareness, like posting on social media, that matters, and keeping the conversation going.”

Leonard, who is in Poland volunteering, has been sharing stories about what she’s seen and heard on social media. She has helped escort refugees into Poland and said that their needs include everything from long-term housing, food and clothing.

“Some days the questions are ‘where can I get a bus to Warsaw or Rzeszow or another destination,'” Leonard said in an email. “Other days, we’re there with shopping carts to carry the luggage in shopping carts on to their destination busses…Refugees are now fleeing with one or two bags they threw together and emergency left their house. You’ll find everything from feminine products to coloring books in the crossing camp.”

Leonard posted a story on her social media accounts about horrifying conditions in Mariupol that a man told her about seeing before he made it to Poland and was separated from his son who is still in Ukraine.

“Four weeks ago, the lives of everyone in Ukraine were like yours. Loving, happy, sweet. They went to work, were raising their children, going to concerts, falling in love. And now this. Never take what you have for granted,” Leonard wrote in the post.

The fundraiser will host Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, First Secretary of the Ukrainian embassy Kateryna Smagliy, and CORE relief workers who will share their stories. As of this morning (Thursday) about 150 people had purchased tickets. Local businesses have donated more than $10,000 of in-kind services so there will be a plenty of food and people together in solidarity, Fakir said.

“This issue of the attack on democracy the unprovoked war it’s just heartbreaking as an American to see that,” she said.

The event will be held at the ALX rooftop at 277 South Washington Street, Penthouse 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Friday. Tickets are available on EventBrite.

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