As Ukraine celebrates their 31st year of independence, local efforts continue to help them keep it

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Generations of Ukrainians, neighbors of all backgrounds, and Ukrainian refugees all celebrated the country that is currently fighting to keep their freedom.

Ukraine gained their Independence on August 24, 1991, and their culture dates back for centuries. On Sunday, The Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center celebrated the country’s rich history, while continuing support for those fighting overseas.

Richard Bannister’s art piece “Ukrainian Tears” that was revealed during the Independence Day celebrations at the Dnipro Cultural Center.

“The culture is so rich you know, the history is so long, the songs of the music, the phrases, and of course the biggest thing, the people,” said Emil Bandrwski, President of the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center. “It’s important that the old community, the new community and a lot of Americans from all ethnic groups, our neighbors, our immediate neighbors are here to celebrate with us.”

The Cultural Center and fundraising groups have raised almost a half million dollars towards humanitarian aid overseas, but they say now more than ever, efforts are needed to help their country keep their freedom.

“Unfortunately, we see a lot of decline in people’s interest and help, we’re trying to keep the momentum going because unfortunately, the war is not over,” said Petro Kushnir, Ukrainian American who helped start Help For Ukraine Buffalo. “We are at the point where people are getting tired and we cannot get tired, we have to keep going and as soon as mentally you are ready to win, you will win. That’s why we think it’s important to keep donating, keeping helping, no matter what.”

Help for Ukraine Buffalo, was created when Russia invaded Ukraine back in February, and since then, they have create 20 pallets of clothing and goods overseas to help. They currently are looking for donations of clothing, diapers, and most importantly winter clothing and coats.

“The empathy that we have for people who are suffering, we have to be reminded of that, we can’t forget that people are hurting,” said Lydia Dominick, Founder of Buffalo Gives, who has traveled to Ukraine six times since the war began, bringing people of Ukraine supplies they need. “The people that I’ve met and that we’ve built relationships with, their resilient, they’re brave, they’re so strong, so loving and they have no doubt that they’re going to fight everyday to save the people of their own country.”

While the country continues to fight for their independence, the efforts of helping here local continue on.

For more information on the Dnipro Cultural Center, visit their website here.

For more information and how to donate to Help For Ukraine Buffalo, head to their Facebook page here.

For more information on Buffalo Gives, and how to donate, head here.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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