March 15, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A fundraiser is being held in Sunnyside Sunday to raise money for the people of war-torn Ukraine.
The event, called Stand With Ukraine, will take place at Bar 43, located at 43-06 43rd St., and will feature live music, Ukrainian cultural performances and raffles with lots of prizes up for grabs.
The fundraiser, which will run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., aims to generate much-needed cash to pay for medical supplies, food and other necessities for Ukrainians who are in the midst of fighting off a Russian invasion.
The event is being organized by Olena Zavragina, a Ukrainian national and a former Bar 43 employee. Zavragina moved to New York from eastern Ukraine in 2010 and lived in Sunnyside and Woodside for many years. She currently lives in Long Island.
Zavragina said she is hosting the event in Sunnyside because it has a large European immigrant population and is a neighborhood with a big heart.
Proceeds from the event, Zavragina said, will be sent to people living in eastern Ukraine who have not fled the country. She said that many people living in western Ukraine have been able to flee to Poland or get aid.
She said it has been much harder to get supplies to eastern Ukraine because it is a long distance away from Poland and other NATO-aligned countries. It is also where the fiercest fighting is taking place and borders Russia.
“It’s a really sad situation… and I’m just trying to do all I can to help, I just want to help,” said Zavragina, who has family members still living in eastern Ukraine.
Zavragina said that a lot of the people who have not fled eastern Ukraine are elderly.
“The older people stay because that’s all they have,” Zavragina said. “They don’t have anywhere to go, it’s tough.”
Attendees will be asked at the door to donate $20, and they will receive one free drink at the bar for their contribution, Zavragina said.
Live music will be played by Irish musician John Malone throughout the day. A friend of Zavragina’s will sing the Ukrainian national anthem and some traditional Ukrainian songs while Ukrainian dancers will perform too.
There will also be a raffle for items such as an Apple Watch and an iPad, Zavragina said. She is appealing to businesses and residents to contribute items that could be raffled off.
For those who cannot attend, donations can be made via Venmo to @Olena-Zavragina.
“I hope the event can make a difference,” Zavragina said.
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