EHS students will host Ukrainian dinner

Posted 4/19/22

Funds will go to charities on the front lines By Sarah Nigbor ELLSWORTH – Several people in the Ellsworth community have deep, personal connections to Ukraine, including an Ellsworth High School …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

EHS students will host Ukrainian dinner


Funds will go to charities on the front lines

By Sarah Nigbor

ELLSWORTH – Several people in the Ellsworth community have deep, personal connections to Ukraine, including an Ellsworth High School exchange student who doesn’t know if he’ll be able to return home at the end of the school year.

EHS’s Hearts & Minds group will host an authentic Ukrainian dinner 5-8 p.m. Saturday, May 7 in the EHS Cafetorium, with proceeds going to charities on the front lines in Ukraine.

Since Russia launched a full-scale military invasion into Ukraine on Feb. 24,


From Page 1

more than 2,600 civilians have died and more than 4.1 million refugees have fled to other countries — the majority of whom have arrived in Poland, a NATO country where U.S. troops are offering assistance to refugees.

EHS foreign exchange student Denys Lohachov is from Khrakiv, the second largest city in Ukraine. Near the eastern border, his city has been devastated.

“If only I could imagine that this would happen,” Lohachov said. “At least two-thirds of the city have fled abroad or to the west ern part of the country. There are still some people left but the infrastructure, most things needed for comfortable living, are gone.”

Lohachov arrived in the United States in September. It’s up in the air whether or not he will be able to return to Ukraine at the end of the school year. His mother and grandmother are in Germany, while his 22-year-old brother is in western Ukraine. His foreign exchange placement organization has not made an offi cial announcement yet, but he speculates he might go to Germany or remain in the United States for an extended placement.

Students in Mr. Casper’s homeroom and the Hearts & Minds group knew they wanted to do something to help their friend’s home country, but they, like many, didn’t what they could do. The group includes students Audrey Farrell, RaeAnna Smith, Maggie Berns, Joy Turvaville, Lexie Shelley, Payton Rohl and Lohachov. Lohachov, along with other students, helped raise more than $15,000 for Afghan refugees at Fort McCoy this past winter.

Another personal connection to Ukraine is Casper’s wife, special education teacher Melinda Casper. Her father married a Ukrainian woman in 2015.

“She goes back (to Kyiv, Ukraine) every December and January to see her kids and grandkids,” Casper said. “She’s been trying to ride it out.”

With the help of Melinda Casper and oth- ers, she has been able to flee to Poland. Lohachov and Farrell applied for and received a $1,000 grant from Empower Ellsworth, a committee of Ellsworth E3 Community Development Corporation. Lohachov pitched the idea to the grant committee. He thought people might enjoy learning more about Ukrainian culture and cuisine. The money will be used to buy ingredients and supplies for the Ukrainian dinner, which is open to the public. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at the EHS office or from one of the students organizing the event. Casper has been in touch with some Ukrainian families in the Twin Cities, Lohachov said, for recipe recommendations. He also had some ideas for the menu himself.

“We will serve Chicken Kyiv, which is pretty good,” Lohachov said. “A lot of people haven’t thought that it was a Ukrainian dish.”

The chicken will be accompanied by draniki (potato pancakes), sauerkraut soup, and Ukrainian desserts made by the EHS foods class. Lohachov also hopes to sell Ukrainian souvenirs, such as T-shirts, mugs, bracelets, small flags or maybe keychains. Proceeds raised from dinner tickets, souvenir sales and free-will donations will be split between two international groups: the Red Cross of Ukraine and World Central Kitchen. These groups help provide medical care to those injured and deliver hot meals to refugees and those in war-torn regions.

The group is hoping to sell at least 150 tickets and raise $5,000. But with the short turnaround time, they know it might be tough.

“A lot of students and parents heard about this going on, but no one knows how they can help out,” Berns said. “Some charities aren’t necessarily reliable and people worry about getting scammed. We’ve done our research on the charities and know where the money is going. It’s a way we can help.”

“Having Denys here at school and knowing somebody from Ukraine, it made it a lot more realistic,” Rohl said. “Knowing someone who has lived there and is now here, coming from Ukraine, it just really hit home that it’s affecting real people and that this is their life. I can’t imagine this happening to me.”

Turvaville explained that her AP English class has been focusing on world events, including the war in Ukraine. “We were really getting those week-byweek updates,” Turvaville said. “It made it a lot more real and it felt so big and out of control. This is a way that we can have some control over things that feel so much bigger than us.”

It’s also a way to get the entire community involved, Smith added.

The war truly hits home locally, Casper said. Not just through his wife’s stepmother and Lohachov, but other Ukrainian families who live in the area.

“I knew how well the Afghan fundraising went and I’m hoping this will go equally as well,” Farrell said.

She is working on a slideshow for the dinner, which will include interviews with local people with Ukrainian ties, more details about the charities, and fun facts about the food and culture. Lohachov will tell event goers his story and thoughts on the war.

To donate to, find "Ellsworth Hearts & Minds Fundraising Meal” on Gofundme.