About 50 people gathered Sunday at Durango Rug Co. in downtown Durango for a march and silent auction to support the people of Ukraine in response to the Russian invasion.
Ukrainian couple Olena Yaremchuk and Vladimir Koshevoy along with fellow organizers Dustin Nolen and Stacy Brocker helped put on the event.
Before Sunday’s march and fundraiser, Koshevoy said he and his wife had raised about $1,000 and had sent money to 30 different Ukrainian families.
“What we can do right now is we’re transferring funds into their accounts,” he said. “Every bit helps and it’s not big amounts, but it’s something we can do. We’re trying to help people who can’t leave, and people who are now trying to get to European countries.”
Koshevoy said he and his wife are in the process of starting the charity Intellectual Leadership Ukraine Forever to assist Ukrainian families affected by the invasion.
Yaremchuk and Koshevoy are also working with a charity based in Denver called Global Musical Bridges, which is organizing an online concert featuring Ukrainian musicians to raise money to pay doctors in Ukraine to provide free virtual care for civilians.
Another effort Koshevoy and Yaremchuk are looking to fund is purchasing body armor for civilians in Ukraine.
“We’re going to expand our activity because this is just the beginning of this humanitarian crisis,” Koshevoy said.
Yaremchuk said she is grateful to those in the Durango community who came out to show support and donate to help Ukrainian people.
“We need support for all. Women and children and all that,” she said. “I love this. I love people who come together to be in the street with me. I am really shocked at the organization in Durango who don’t know me and don’t know my family and they come to support.”
Those who attended the fundraiser were able to make bids on 30 art pieces from 10 different artists. About 18 pieces were brought over from the Smiley Art Room located in the Smiley Building.
“I emailed everybody last minute and the night before, and everybody was supportive. Some donated their art and some donated money,” Brocker said.
Brocker said it feels nice to be able to contribute money to help people in Ukraine.
“It’s hard to just sit back and watch what’s going on,” Brocker said. “Even if we don’t have money or art to donate, we do have our gestures and our words.”