Home » ‘You can’t look away from a genocide’: Event to raise funds for Ukraine relief efforts – Lansing State Journal

‘You can’t look away from a genocide’: Event to raise funds for Ukraine relief efforts – Lansing State Journal

by Arifa Rana

OKEMOS — “You can’t look away from a genocide,” Michigan State University law student Neonila Kossak said of the war in Ukraine.
Kossak was born in Ukraine before moving to the United States as a child. She still has family in Ukraine and she said her family is adapting to a “horrible new normal” with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
Kossak said bringing people together and spreading awareness about the war increases their power as they push for peace and an end to the fighting.
That’s why she thinks it’s great that Meridian Mall business We Come To You Event Planning is hosting a dance to raise money for UNICEF Ukraine relief efforts.
“I, 100%, think that every single event, and this event in Meridian Mall, I think when you bring people together who have a common goal and a common purpose, you create magic,” she said.
The dance is from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 23, in the company’s event room in the High Caliber Karting and Entertainment wing of the mall. There’s no admission charge, but guests are asked to bring a monetary donation for relief efforts, business owner Alexis “Alex” Jones said.
Jones said he is investing about $5,000 to host the dance. The room leases for $1,600 and he’s spending $1,400 for a DJ, $1,200 on snacks and $800 for decorations.
There will be individually wrapped snacks including chips, cookies, trail mix and drinks. The room was decorated April 7 to raise awareness for the event and there are selfie rooms and a backdrop for photos. During the dance, one table will be draped in black with the chairs flipped to honor those who have died as a result of the war in Ukraine, Jones said.
He hopes that over the dance’s six hours, 300 to 400 people attend. All proceeds will go to UNICEF and if someone can’t attend, he encourages them to go directly to UNICEF’s website to donate to the cause.
“Whatever we raise, it’s more than what they have,” he said.
According to German market and consumer data company Statista, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights verified there have been 1,964 civilian deaths during Russia’s military attack on Ukraine as of Wednesday. Of them, 161 were children. Other reports, such as one from Ukraine officials in Mariupol, say as many as 10,000 have been killed.
In February, UNICEF increased lifesaving support for threatened children and their families in Ukraine. The Donbas region’s civilian population was 3.4 million, including 510,000 children, according to the organization’s website.
Jones’ daughter recently had twins and the family has been struggling to find baby formula for them. He realized families in Ukraine have monumental struggles, with many families fleeing with only what they can carry, and he feels bad for the children.
So he wanted to hold the dance for three reasons: If you have the ability to help other people, you’re supposed to help; to welcome Ukrainian refugees to Greater Lansing; and because he feels bad for Ukrainians who “didn’t see this coming.”
“They don’t know where the future lies,” he said.
Kossak said she gets chills talking about the future because it is truly uncertain with this conflict.
“He’s got a big heart,” she said of Jones.
Kossak thinks the dance will be impactful and is excited for it, with plans to check it out. She thinks it’s good Jones is honoring the tragic loss of lives in the country.
Whether it’s wearing a Ukrainian pin, a yellow-and-blue ribbon around the wrist, or having a flag hanging from the car, she encourages people to do something to show support. It doesn’t have to be something huge, it can be donating to the cause or staying informed on the situation.
“Little things go a long, long way,” she said.
People can call Jones at 517-614-0739 to learn more and can visit the We Come To You Event Planning’s website and Facebook page.
Contact Bryce Airgood at 517-267-0448 or bairgood@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @bairgood123.

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