MANCHESTER, N.H. – Despite frigid temperatures, a crowd of people gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday evening just before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting to show their support for Ukraine following that country’s recent invasion by Russia.
The event was organized by local activist Daniel Mowery, who felt the need to do something after hearing about the situation on the ground in Ukraine from his barber, who hails from the country and still has family there.
“I’ve been seeing her for six years and she keeps on telling me about Ukraine,” he said. “All of a sudden the war broke out, so I called her and wanted to make sure she was doing okay.”
Mowery says that Tuesday’s rally exceeded turnout expectations and credited efforts by Victoria Sullivan, although he felt that the cold weather kept away many elderly members of the Ukrainian community in Manchester that might have attended.
Speakers during the event shared their prayers for the people of Ukraine, as well as requests for support.
Andre Ilyuk, co-owner of ODA Auto Precision in Auburn, had a truck parked on Elm Street showing his support for the people of Ukraine through QR codes for a GoFundMe fundraiser and a Bible quote which he felt apt given the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ilyuk escaped Ukraine 19 years ago due to persecution of his Christian faith, but still has family scattered all over the country.
“We’re happy to be here (in the United States), but we see what’s going on back home. Our uncles, our cousins are on the front line fighting for their life. It’s senseless killing, nothing was provoked,” he said. “That’s why we’re gathered here to protest it.”
Ilyuk says he will match any donations up to $100,000 for his fundraiser, which aims to help victims of the war in Ukraine. As of 10 p.m. on Tuesday, the fundraiser has been paused by GoFundMe as the website seeks to see if it meets the site’s rules of service.
UPDATE: The fundraising website has been moved here.