Mountain towns rise up to aid Ukraine

WESTON, Vt. – One thing Vermonters are particularly poor at is sitting around and doing nothing in the face of a storm or other crises. And so it was when two residents of Weston, Wayne Granquist and Jim Linville, were overwhelmed upon hearing of the atrocities happening in Ukraine. What could be done to offer support from far-off Vermont?

In a few days, a small group kicked into gear; they gained access to Magic Mountain, flooded towns with “Help Ukraine!” flyers, and arranged food, including hundreds of pirogues and gallons of borscht, besides organizing live music, which included a Ukrainian “front man.” Over 400 people attended Magic’s Black Line Tavern for the event on Saturday, April 9, where more than $35,000 dollars was raised for the charity Save the Children’s “Ukrainian Crisis Relief Fund.”

Looking back, the event was a miraculous example of how Vermonters can mobilize and care about making a difference, that is, standing up to challenges that affect the lives of people, wherever they are.

Two of those who spared nothing to help with the event were Will Reed and Lexi Young, who both have mothers who are Ukrainian Americans. They cajoled local chefs, Wes Genovart, Rogan Lechthaler, and Alyssa Prouty, to provide all the food, gratis. They also got a “kicking” Vermont band, The Western Terrestrials, to come play. An opening band, Morning Dewett, also performed.

Geoff Hatheway, President of Magic Mountain, engaged the whole Magic team, including Kerry Mara and Josh Hearne, and donated the venue and his team’s time and creativity for the event. As Geoff noted, “We are a community mountain, and make a special point of pitching in to help our neighbors and other good causes.” Earlier in March, Magic Mountain donated money for every ticket sold to Save the Children, as well as a 100% match for any customer donations, and raised over $10,000 for the charity’s “Ukrainian Crisis Relief Fund.”

Gun Burns of S. Londonderry sewed Ukrainian flags for the event, including a huge one used as a backdrop for the bandstand. She also organized and ran a silent auction of donated items. Local children pitched in at the Peru Town Hall by making over 200 Ukrainian buttons, which they sold at the fundraiser. The kids brought in over $1,000, and gave event goers beautiful little keepsakes.

Maryann Morris and others from The Collaborative enabled all the credit card and Venmo charges, and manned the check out desk. As for getting the word out about the event in record time, a number of other charitable organizations were tapped – from libraries and churches, to Neighborhood Connections and other local organizations. Folks came out of the woodwork to donate food, auction items, and time. In short, the entire community was enlisted and energized.

Save the Children’s “Ukrainian Crisis Relief Fund” was chosen from a large number of other excellent options simply because it’s been in Ukraine for years and is equipped to help Ukrainian refugees who are scattered in the many European countries accepting them. For anyone wanting to offer further support, please feel free to write a check to the Fund and send it to P.O. Box 299, Weston, VT 05161. All donations will be greatly appreciated.


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