A Ukrainian family held a fundraiser at Orchards BBQ & Grill, 16214 Whittier Blvd., in Whittier on May 9, and will be hosting another on May 16.
From 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, the Brunets family worked with the restaurant to raise funds for their native Ukraine, after witnessing the country’s struggle to survive its war with Russia.
The family allowed residents of Whittier and surrounding areas to attend, and each attendee received a ticket to experience unique Ukrainian cuisine and support their fundraiser.
Main host Oleksiv Brunets sat down with many of the event attendees to share his family’s heartbreaking story during their [recent] trip to USA
Oleksiv, his brother and his mother all emigrated to the United States with one suitcase each last month.
The family said they took the long road to Los Angeles and first fled from Ukraine to Poland. Then they went to Spain, then Colombia, Cancun, Tijuana and, finally, La Habra in April.
Oleksiv said they may never return to Ukraine; The three left behind a 27-year-old brother, their father and other family members and friends who are still in Ukraine fighting the war. The family, so far, have been able to find temporary accommodation in Whittier.
More than 5.7 million Ukrainian refugees have fled their native land, which is equal to a quarter, or 90%, of the country’s population; More than 6.5 million people are likely displaced in Ukraine.
Los Angeles has about 17,000 Ukrainian immigrants in 2020. But as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, at least 26,000 have fled to the City of Angels since. There are now over 60,000 Ukrainians in all of California.
The largest Ukrainian community in the United States resides in New York City with over 130,000 currently lives there; this includes more than 74,000 Ukrainian immigrants.
Ukraine from the neighboring country have actually taken in refugees. Neighboring countries like Romania currently host more than 800,000 Ukrainians; Belarus hosts 26,000; and parts of Russia have hosted more than 700,000.
However, most refugees are currently seeking asylum in Poland; where more than 3.1 million refugees currently live.
the European Union Gateway recently gave Ukrainians permission to leave the war and instead work in its 27 member countries for up to three years as they continue to recruit their people.
Throughout the event, Oleksiv, his brother and their mother continually thanked everyone who came through the restaurant’s doors for their support.
The family shared that it is heartbreaking to understand the fact that they still have many loved ones in Ukraine suffering at the hands of the Russian military. They hope the people of Greater Los Angeles County and beyond will continue to support Ukraine during this difficult time.
People all over the world are sending their love and prayers to Ukrainians; The Brunets family said they hope their efforts to continue supporting Ukraine will inspire others to do the same.