City and community leaders  took the microphone at a Tuesday night rally before a crowd well over a hundred strong at Charleston City Hall to declare support for the people of Ukraine. The rally was organized in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last Thursday. The conflict has turned major cities into battlefields and displaced hundreds of thousands.  

“Thank you everyone for being here, I can’t tell you how good it is to see you all standing here together in solidarity for Ukraine,” said Charleston mayor John Tecklenburg. “Tonight, we are all Ukrainian,” 

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg spoke in front of a crowd that included several Ukrainian and Eastern European immigrants in support of Ukraine

The rally closed off a portion of Broad Street in front of City Hall. Amidst the crowd were several with personal connections to Ukraine, many with families and friends either taking refuge from or taking part in the conflict. 

“My parents were born in a Polish city called Lwow which was taken over by the Soviet Union and became known as Lviv,” said a rally attendee named Adam (who asked to keep his last name private). “So I feel a certain affinity with the citizens of Ukraine who are suffering tonight, and that’s why I’m here.” 

Aleksandr Pavlichenko and his wife Maka Aptsiaur, who own West Ashley’s popular European grocery store, Eurofoods, have kept in touch with Pavlichenko’s family in his home country of Ukraine throughout the conflict. “Every morning we wake up, and the first thing we do is call his family in Ukraine,” Aptsiaur told the City Paper

Rally attendees held several posters adorned with Ukrainian flags and messages in support of the Ukrainian people in their fight against Russian invasion

Multiple religious leaders led prayers for the people of Ukraine, asking for peace and victory for Ukraine over the invading forces of Russia. In closing remarks, Tecklenburg read off several posters held aloft by rally attendees.

“Hands off Ukraine. We stand with Ukraine. Stop war. Zelensky is a hero. Support Ukraine. Freedom for Ukraine. Stop Putin … Pray for Ukraine. We stand for Ukraine … No war … Ukraine must win or we all lose.” 

The last poster held a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Tecklenburg said to a cheering crowd. “That’s exactly what we have.” 

If you want to help … 

The ongoing conflict has humanitarian efforts scrambling as civilians flee their homes or take refuge in bomb shelters and underground structures throughout the Eastern European country. If you want to help, try some of these organizations seeking assistance: 

To support the Ukrainian Military directly, the National Bank of Ukraine has established a special donation account specifically to support troops and equipment purchases.

Paint Against Putin – Charleston’s Deckman Studio is hosting a fundraiser for Ukrainian relief from 6-9 p.m., March 26, with a live painting event and silent art auction.

UNICEF USA – UNICEF is supporting health, nutrition, HIV prevention, education, water, sanitation and more.

Doctors Without Borders – DWB is involved in a range of activities with local volunteers, organizations, health care professionals and authorities to aid in travel to and from health care facilities.

Voices of Children – VoC is a Ukraine-based Charitable Foundation helping to provide mental health support to children. 

Red Cross – However possible, the American Red Cross is supporting the work of the Ukrainian Red Cross.

International Medical Corps – IMC, a global nonprofit, has been delivering primary health care and mental health services in Eastern Ukraine for nearly a decade. It’s now raising funds to expand those services.

Water Mission – Charleston nonprofit Water Mission has sent a crew to Europe to assist displaced Ukrainian families have greater access to clean drinking water. 

Eurofoods – Immigrant-owned West Ashley grocery store Eurofoods may be holding a collection drive this weekend to support families in Ukraine. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for more information. 

This list is not exhaustive, as many other organizations are helping families caught in the conflict.

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