From anti-war protests to selling bottles of Ukrainian wine, folks in Delaware have expressed their support to the people in Ukraine in various ways.
FranksWine (1206 N. Union St., Wilmington) will host a charitable al fresco tasting of five Ukrainian sparkling wines and a native vodka on Wednesday, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The business is seeking a $10 donation per guest to the event, and 100% of the proceeds will be split between St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church and Saints Peter & Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church, both in Wilmington, said Frank Pagliaro, owner of FranksWine.
The shop owner said he took Russia’s invasion into Ukraine personally because he has a Delaware friend who is from the invaded country.
“I just couldn’t imagine [being in] the crisis right now,” Pagliaro said.
Mark Murowany, chairperson for St. Nicholas Church, said he’s planning to donate proceeds from the tasting event to the Ukrainian Church of the USA, which is raising money for humanitarian aid to support people in Ukraine.
People can pledge a donation at uocofusa.org.
Murowany, who last visited Ukraine in 2017, said he’s blessed that Delawareans have shown compassion to the members of their church, which makes them feel like they’re not alone.
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His church is in the planning phase of trying to figure out different ways they can help Ukraine, he added, because “you can imagine, we've got a lot of people offering ideas.”
The Rev. Stephen Hutnick, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, said fundraisers like the al fresco tasting are a great support and “it shows the world that Russia’s the aggressor.”
Hutnick said his church plans to send any proceeds from that event to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, which has a link on its website (ukrarcheparchy.us) to a humanitarian aid fund where people can donate to help Ukraine.
Ukrainians need monetary support, he explained, because there are 1 million Ukrainian refugees who are “desperate” and in need of food and clothing.
The religious leader has used Facebook to stay in touch with his loved ones during the war. “They’re scared,” he said about his family overseas.
“My mind is still not accepting what’s happened. It’s very emotional and shocking to everyone. How could it happen like this?” Hutnick questioned.
“To ask a human to kill innocent people, especially children, too. They’ve bombed houses, apartments, schools, kindergartens, everything.”
Jews with Ukraine roots
Delaware has roughly 15,000 Jewish residents and some have Ukrainian roots, said Seth Katzen, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Delaware. An estimated 200,000 Jews reside in Ukraine, Katzen added.
The Jewish Federations of North America created an emergency fund to send aid to Ukraine. People can donate at Jewishfederations.org.
The goal is to reach $20 million; the national organization has raised more than $7 million. The Delaware chapter alone has raised about $25,000, Katzen added.
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Like a number of Americans who’ve been keeping tabs on the war between Russia and Ukraine, “we feel for the people in Ukraine,” the CEO said.
“We’re all glued to the news, as everybody else is, trying to see what’s happening. We all hope and pray for this to end as quickly as possible.”
“We’re very concerned for their welfare,” Katzen said. “
Protesting with ‘confidence’
University of Delaware junior Greg Tarnavskyi, 21, is a Ukrainian Jew from Dnipro.
He and his Russian friend Vlad Krylov, 21, a senior and fellow Blue Hen, recently organized two anti-war protests in Delaware. The first was on campus and the second was Saturday in Wilmington.
The momentum from the first protest has them considering organizing a rally in Philadelphia.
“There are a lot of colleges or universities there, so I think many young people would want to show support. That's why we think Philly would be a good place,” Krylov said.
“The first step was the university. When we saw that we gathered so many people together, that we had so much support, it kind of gave us some confidence,” Tarnavskyi said.
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Tarnavskyi, a political science major, said he’s in constant contact with his family back home. His mom and little sister escaped to Bulgaria, while his grandparents, father, brother, older sister and friends are still in Ukraine.
“It's terrifying to hear when they say that they [heard] bombs exploding every 30 seconds … or something like that. I got texts from my friends,” Tarnavskyi said.
Krylov, an economics major minoring in entrepreneurship, is from Moscow. His grandfather and mom (her dad) are Ukrainians who live in Russia.
The UD senior has lived only in America since his freshman year of college, whereas Tarnavskyi’s family shipped him off from Ukraine to Maryland to enroll at Quaker boarding school when he was in high school.
Krylov said he’s been in contact with his family every other day by using WhatsApp because it’s one of the few social media apps that hasn’t been restricted by the Russian government during the invasion.
The 21-year-old said it breaks his heart that the Russian government has been the aggressor, especially because he said a number of Russian soldiers consider Ukraine a “brother nation.”
“The Russian propaganda is a technology that has been perfected for decades. And these soldiers who are often as young as 18 years old, they just do not know that," the Moscow native said.
"They go into Ukraine and they're told the citizens would greet them with flowers and praise. But the opposite happens."
A number of videos have been trending on social media of what appear to be Ukrainian soldiers who’ve captured Russian prisoners. In the videos, the Russian captives said they were told by their superiors that they came to Ukraine for a military exercise, not to start a war.
"Because every soldier is telling this story, I kind of stopped believing it because maybe their generals told them that if you get captured, just say you went there for a military exercise,” Tarnavskyi explained.
The Ukrainian said his strategy for maneuvering through fake news has been to read news from both the Ukrainian and Russian press, and then compare those notes.
“When you check both sides, you kind of get a picture for yourself which is more or less true. You're double-checking to see whether one side is lying.”
The two anti-war protesters want the conflict in Ukraine to end as swiftly as possible. They’ve pledged to not be silent until that happens.
“We’re going to do something every single week until it ends,” Krylov said.
’Haters out there’
FranksWine is donating $5 to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for every bottle of the Ukrainian Bomon Shampe sold.
The owner of the shop went viral on TikTok (frankpagliaro939) late last month when he posted a video of himself boycotting Stoli vodka by pouring out a bottle of it, in support of Ukraine.
That video was Pagliaro's first post on TikTok and it generated over 327,000 views.
After that, Pagliaro made another viral video. He encouraged customers to donate to the Ukrainian Church of the USA, which would earn them the chance to smash a bottle of Stoli in his store’s trashcan, which was lined with bricks.
Over 100 bottles have been demolished in his store, he said.
Pagliaro, however, wasn’t unaware that Stoli isn’t made in Russia despite its name. The beverage is manufactured in Latvia, according to Stoli.com. The Stoli Group denounced Russia’s attack on Ukraine, per its website.
“People were badgering me for not fact-checking stuff,” Pagliaro said. “I've been in this business for 35 years and have been selling Stoli for 35 years. I've always known it to be Russian vodka.”
Pagliaro said he’s sincere about supporting Ukraine and he wasn’t to virtue signal when he pulled Stoli off his shelves, back when he thought it was Russian vodka and he planned to never sell it again.
“If I left it on my shelf and sold it at full market price, and made money on it, that's me monetizing from it,” he said. “But there's always going to be haters out there.”
Andre Lamar is the features/lifestyle reporter. If you have an interesting story idea, email Andre Lamar at email@example.com
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: How the Russian-Ukraine war has inspired people in Delaware to help