Dickinson rally aims to bolster morale, support for Ukrainians
"... so I don't think a person needs to be Ukrainian to be involved, you just have to care," Dickinson resident Joel Walters said.
DICKINSON — The ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War has touched people all over the world, including residents on the Western Edge who are rallying together to host a humanitarian fundraiser aimed at affecting change for the people of Ukraine.
Doors for the rally will open at 6 p.m. Monday, March 7, at the Biesiot Activities Center in Dickinson, with the rally officially kicking off around 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public with a freewill donation.
Joel Walters, a resident of Dickinson and event co-organizer, said that all over the world, eyes are on Ukraine while those engaged in the defense of their invaded nation are also looking to see what support they’re receiving to “bolster their morale."
“I think that people are hurting everywhere and I think that right there should be (the) reason for people to get involved,” Walters said. “So many of us have it so well where we're living, especially in North Dakota. And so I don't think a person needs to be Ukrainian to be involved, you just have to care. You can be involved at whatever level is possible for you. It's so easy for us to become complacent and sit by and watch it happen and then go about our daily lives. But if we have the opportunity to affect change even just in a small way, I think we ought to be involved.”
Walters noted that they are encouraging people to give as they can, much like a “pass the plate situation” with the options for donors to select where their proceeds can help support. For those who may be somewhat detached from the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, they may be more cautious when handing out their donation. This rally aims to bridge that gap for people who want to help, he added.
“Some people prefer to donate more toward a humanitarian cause. In other words, is my money going to go toward helping a refugee make it to safety or am I providing food or clothing and that kind of thing. Other people might be more apt to just want to cut a check and send it in,” Walters said. “… Quite honestly, the goal of this is to try to help people to know how they can be involved and help them to feel confident knowing where their money is going to go.”
As this rally comes as a project of local Ukrainian Catholic churches, St. Demetrius Catholic Church will operate as the “clearinghouse for the funds,” Walters said, explaining that if donors wish to provide funds for humanitarian efforts, the church will help facilitate that process.
Over the last number of years, Walters has had the opportunity to be involved with the Ukrainian community on the Western Edge. Being that there is such an active group of Ukrainians in western North Dakota, especially in the Dickinson, Belfield and Fairfield areas, Walters felt that was the impetus to host a rally, trying to offer aid to those in need.
“Things continue to evolve in Ukraine and that not only affects the people directly over there, but so many people who have direct ties within these Ukrainian communities as well and so people want to be involved… We really wanted to try to be proactive about that and do our part at least,” Walters said. “... I'm not Ukrainian, but I do feel that this is a very important thing, and I've been very involved in the community over the years. And so I really wanted to see that we might be the avenue for change here. There's a lot of very active people who have volunteered already. Again, many of the people who are volunteering to participate in this event are not Ukrainian. We're just just community members, working alongside them to try to bring about some change here.”
At the rally, Four Corners Cafe & Catering — which specializes in Ukrainian entrees in Fairfield — will be serving a light meal. As patriotic music plays throughout the evening, the rally will also feature speakers from local guests to possibly an official from the Chicago Consulate, providing information and answering questions people may have.
On its Facebook event page , the rally has already garnered more than 120 responses.
“... I think we’re expecting a good crowd. A lot of people have already expressed interest. I know there’s other people who said they’re trying to promote it in other ways as well,” Walters said. “So Facebook is just a small glimpse as to who’s really interested. But I’m pleased with the response that we’ve had there and really this was conceptualized overnight, quite literally. Starting Monday, I was talking to a friend of mine and we thought, ‘Well, we got to make this happen and we don’t have a huge amount of time.’ The need is ever present and so, we really wanted to get this up and running. We know it’s a quick turnaround time, but we’re really hopeful that people will come out and participate and be willing to donate.”
For more information on the rally, call 701-690-6857.