By Adam Duxter

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (WCCO) — Hundreds packed the halls of St. Michael’s and St. George’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church Sunday, but not necessarily for Palm Sunday service.

Instead, the visitors to the church filled an auditorium to show support for the Ukrainian church and for Ukrainians overseas by purchasing handcrafted Easter eggs, food and more.

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“It is an event that has been going on, put on for many years by this church community,” said organizer Tania Bunik. “This year in particular, this event has brought on more meaning.”

Founded in 1925, and comprised of first- and second-generation Ukrainian Americans, St. Michael’s and St. George’s counts on the yearly event for fundraising support locally. Yet as the war in Ukraine continues, a church supported by members of St. Michael’s and St. George’s has come in the line of fire in Bucha.

“Many people have ties to that church,” Bunk said.

For church members in Minneapolis, Sunday’s event offered a chance to be both helpful and hopeful.

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“I think it’s gonna take very long time to recover and rebuild,” said organizer Ludmila Johnson. “But there is a hope, and I think help of the entire, you know, community … this is where we stand.”

“People need to feel that support, that we don’t forget about them. They’re [in our] hearts, they’re in our blood, they’re in our thought, they are in our prayers,” Johnson said. “Even if they’re hiding, you know, or they’re wounded, they’re in pain, we hear them.”

For people visiting the church Sunday, purchasing a handmade egg or homemade meal offered a chance to show their solidarity.

“This means a lot to me, because it is not just writing a check, it’s tangible support, seeing people and talking to people,” said Linda Picek, who made the trip from Plymouth with her husband John.

“Keeping these traditions going through the many years to come is a show of resilience of the Ukrainian people,” Johnson said.

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“This will be an ongoing effort,” Bunik said. “Not just for this month or this year, but for years to come.”

Adam Duxter