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Crowds gather in a park in Elmhurst to celebrate Ukrainian culture and show support


ELMHURST, Ill. (CBS) – Dozens of supporters gathered in Elmhurst on Wednesday evening to show their solidarity with Ukraine.

The evening at Wilder Park was a celebration of Ukrainian music and culture with speakers who provided unique perspectives on the war-torn country. As CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek reported, the town of Elmhurst hopes to inspire people not just to come together, but to take action.

“We’re all wondering how we can show our support and what we can do to help,” Elmhurst Mayor Scott Levin said.

And Elmhurst stood up for the Ukrainian people on Wednesday night.

“They all care about each other and respect everyone,” said 11-year-old Ksenia Levskovych, who sang Ukraine’s national anthem. “We have very beautiful hills. I visited them.”

Ksenia is a first generation Ukrainian American. Ever since Russia invaded her family’s homeland, her parents have tried to shield her from the images of war.

Yet she wonders, “Why did Putin have to do this? It doesn’t make sense. We really didn’t do anything. We’re just people.”

Some Ukrainians are now taking refuge in Elmhurst. Mariia Teslaa and her mother, Larysa, arrived in the United States on March 10 after fleeing Kviv.

While staying with Mariia’s sister, the family remains torn apart.

“Their father, Larysa’s husband is still in Kviv because they don’t let men out of the country,” said their interpreter, Svetlana. “They are supposed to take up arms and fight.”

A photo from a trip to the Dominican Republic taken last November shows the family together – relaxed and happy. Now that feeling has been replaced by inevitable pain, fear and anxiety.

“They just learned that Luisa’s brother’s nephew was killed,” Svetlana said. “He was killed a month ago but they found him yesterday.”

But for Wednesday night there was music – words of hope for a return to peace.

“Just hoping for life,” X said. “We want to see our loved ones. We want to see our loved ones who stayed in Ukraine. We want them all to live.”

Mayor Levin said earlier that the evening was not just about bringing people together, but about finding ways to give. The city of Elmhurst has compiled a list of ways you can help Ukrainians – either donating money or other resources, or even opening your home to refugees. Everything is now online on the City of Elmhurst website.

You can help care for millions of Ukrainians displaced by war. The Illinois Broadcasters Association and CBS 2 come together to support UNICEF.

Visit unicefusa.org/illinois to learn more about how you can make a difference.


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