Town and Village

Local fundraisers support ongoing relief efforts in Ukraine

BRATTLEBORO — As July is the month that the United States celebrates its independence day, Kerry Secrest, Honorary Consul of Lithuania to Vermont and Brattleboro resident, is leading a summer fundraiser to support ongoing efforts for Ukraine.

Having just returned from Lithuania, Secrest said in a news release that “being in Vilnius while Wagner paramilitary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed control of military facilities in two Russian cities and marched toward Moscow, I am reminded that there is incredible instability in the region and for this reason, the world. We are at a critical time for global democracy, and Ukraine must win this war.”

To show solidarity for Ukraine, Secrest has “We Stand With Ukraine” lawn signs available for free in exchange for the promise of a donation to a nonprofit supporting efforts with Ukraine and refugees. The signs are available at the Saxtons River Distillery locations in Brattleboro: the shop on 2 Elliot Street, and its distillery at 155 Chickering Drive.

“We need to keep this war in the public eye, as Putin is counting on using war fatigue in the United States and Europe to his advantage.” Secrest said. “Therefore, the lawn signs serve as a visible reminder in our neighborhoods that the war continues.”

There continues to be enormous need both on the ground in Ukraine and to help the more than eight million Ukrainians who have fled as refugees, the news release points out. People are encouraged to donate to one of the following nonprofit organizations. See for links.

• Blue/Yellow USA: Provides nonlethal supplies to Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers, such as medical supplies, optics and communications equipment, and bulletproof vests. The number of wounded is increasing exponentially, thus the urgent need for combat application tourniquets and Individual First Aid Kits (IFAK).

• Ukrainian Center in Vilnius, Lithuania. With over 70,000 refugees in Lithuania, the Ukrainian Center hosts cultural events, training courses, speaking clubs, sports activities, refugee assistance and ongoing psychological assistance.

• Ukrainian Refugee Aid in Lithuania. The Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Connecticut are collaborating with their community members in Lithuania assisting Ukrainian refugees. The funds provide psychological counseling, programs for children, child care for working mothers, and medical support, and support families with greater need, especially those with medical problems.

Additionally, Christian Stromberg, owner of Saxtons River Distillery, and a sibling of Kerry, has produced a new product, Snowdrop Vodka, where profits from the sale are donated to Blue/Yellow USA.

“As my ancestors were forced to flee Lithuania and start over back in 1905, I understand what is at stake for today's Ukrainian people. That is why it is so crucial for me to give back to charities like Friends of Blue/Yellow that support those who are displaced and need help,” said Stromberg. The vodka can be purchased at his two locations.

Lithuania, with its own history of Soviet occupation, is a leader in Europe in opposing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and is hosting a NATO Summit on July 11 and 12.

“This war is about more than Ukraine - it has global ramifications for democracy,” said Secrest. “Please remember Ukraine this summer and make a donation of any amount.”

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