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West MI fundraiser raises money for Ukraine medical supplies, ambulance to front lines

The doors open at the gym at St. Isidore Parish Life Center on Spring Avenue in Grand Rapids at 4 P.M.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Russian President Vladimir Putin is defying international law and claiming control of four regions in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy then announced his country's formal application to join NATO. 

It all comes months after Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, and there is a local effort this weekend to help those on the front lines in Ukraine. 

A fundraising dinner this Saturday, hosted by St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church, St. Isidore Catholic Church and the church's Knights of Columbus Council, hopes to send help thousands of miles away. 

"The Ukrainian people need us," Oleksandra Soltinska, fundraising dinner volunteer, says. "They need our help."

Inside the kitchen at St. Isidore Parish Life Center, volunteers cooked up a Ukrainian specialty Friday night, ahead of the dinner.

"The red borscht is the soup making in the red beets, that is our traditional famous soup," Soltinska says. "And (we're making) varenyky, it's like dumplings with the potato."

She says with the money they raise, they hope to purchase an ambulance and medical supplies for those in the front lines.

Soltinska was born in Ukraine, and she has been here for the last 25 years. She says while we're all safe here, it's hard to hear about the horrors thousands of miles away.

"We can't even watch the news without crying because every single day (on) the news, they kill somebody," she says.

That's why she says it's important to host events like this. During the dinner, they'll celebrate Ukrainian culture with desserts, prayers, music and raffles. They'll also catch up on the latest from the conflict with a presentation.

"Really wonderful people, hard-working people, they lost almost everything for nothing," Soltinska says. "So this is important for us."

"We want people to understand the conflict," Michael Bertram with the church says. "And we're offering a way to help with it."

He says this fundraiser can be a solution for those who want to help.

"We suggest $10 donation. But anybody that can donate anything, you're welcome," he says. "We're not going to not feed you if you don't have $15. It's whatever you can give."

The doors open at the gym at St. Isidore Parish Life Center on Spring Avenue in Grand Rapids at 4 P.M. The event ends at 8 P.M., and there are takeout dinner options available.

Along with the borscht soup and varenyky, there'll be salad, spaghetti and garlic toast. 

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