HELENA - More than 100 people were gathered at the Montana State Capitol on Tuesday for a unity with Ukraine gathering.
“We all at any time can put away our phones. We can turn off the news. When it all becomes too much to handle we could go for a drive. We could turn off the radio to drown out our thoughts. We could do all these things when it gets too much. Why families in Ukraine? The only thing they can do is try to drown out the sounds of the air raids,” said Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins.
Collins gave a speech retelling his own personal story of being a refugee in Liberia with his wife, saying that war for Americans can be shut off from a television but the Ukrainians are living it.
Hands On Global Director Valerie Hellermann says this gathering is to bring awareness of the devastation she has witnessed as she worked as a medical NGO for a month in Ukraine.
“I think that we're here to establish some awareness on what's going on in Ukraine and what it is we can do for the Ukrainian people and to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” said Hellermann.
For Ukrainians in Helena, many of their friends are on the ground experiencing air raids and attacks.
"While I am writing to you, I hear that air raid sirens are holding again. An army is trying to annihilate our country, get rid of its existence on the world map, killing everyone, children and adults,” said Tatiana Lukenbill.
Lukenbill’s friends appreciate the support, "we appreciate all kinds of help, psychological, financial, your empathy, and understanding of what our people are living through,” said Lukenbill.
For Svitlana Prouty, her friends are trying to be as positive and remain safe as possible, "for me, I'm trying my best to do what I can little by little with my strength."
Prouty says giving to organizations that are helping with the displaced Ukrainians is important, "it starts with little things from little people to little people, and with small things, it turns into something bigger."
The Ukraine Benefit Concert at St. Peter’s Episcopal Cathedral has been postponed until May 23 and May 24 due to multiple COVID-19 exposures. To donate to those in need due to the Ukraine conflict you can donate to these organizations: