Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
A teapot holds crocheted sunflowers at Already Read bookstore on Thursday in Kenai.

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion A teapot holds crocheted sunflowers at Already Read bookstore on Thursday in Kenai.

In Kenai, crocheted sunflowers raise money for Ukrainian refugees

The flowers are sold in multiple businesses around the central peninsula

KENAI — Sunflowers are blooming in businesses around the central Kenai Peninsula — but they’re probably not the kind you’re thinking of. The sunflowers — Ukraine’s national flower — are crocheted, locally and by hand, as part of a fundraising campaign to support Ukrainian refugees. All proceeds go to World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that provides meals in the wake of natural disasters and that is currently working to feed Ukrainian refugees.

Susie Smalley, one of the leaders of the local fundraising campaign, said the crocheted flowers can be traced back to last month’s “Standing with Ukraine” demonstration. Organized by Many Voices, a social justice advocacy group headed by Smalley and Michele Vasquez, the event brought community members donned in sunflowers with signs of support to the intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways. “Work for Peace,” one sign said. “We support Ukraine,” said another.

The demonstration was in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which drew swift criticism from Western leaders and created millions of Ukrainian refugees.

Smalley said she and others have also launched virtual campaigns for World Central Kitchen. As of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Smalley’s Facebook campaign had raised more than $4,000 for the nonprofit.

The organization set up shop at a 24-hour pedestrian border crossing in southern Poland in late February, “within hours” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the World Central Kitchen website. The group also makes meals available at eight other border crossings around Ukraine as well as supporting local restaurants in Odessa, Lviv and Kyiv.

Smalley said Tuesday that fundraising for groups already working in Ukraine empowers people locally to offer support and makes the process more accessible.

“People need to know ways to give,” Smalley said Tuesday. “Not everyone is connected.”

Working with artist Jenn Ticknor, Smalley estimates there are between eight and 10 people crocheting sunflowers on the central peninsula as part of the fundraiser. The flowers can be found at River City Books in Soldotna as well as Already Read in Kenai, though Smalley said any business interested in participating is welcome. People interested in helping crochet sunflowers are also encouraged to reach out.

“It’s just kind of hit the right spot for people in our community who are looking for a way to donate,” Smalley said.

People interested in contributing to the fundraiser can contact Susie Smalley at 907-283-7469.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 25

Here’s what to expect this week.

The LeConte state ferry departs Juneau on Tuesday afternoon, bound for Haines on a special round-trip following two cancelled sailings due to a mechanical problem. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)
LeConte returns to service with special trip to Haines after weekend cancellation

State ferry will pick up half of nearly 60 stranded vehicles, others may have to wait until July.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, May 27, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Anchorage pullers arrived at Wrangell’s Petroglyph Beach on May 23 for a canoe-naming ceremony. One of the canoes they will paddle to Juneau was dedicated to Wrangell’s Marge Byrd, Kiks.adi matriarch Shaawat Shoogoo. The canoe’s name is Xíxch’ dexí (Frog Backbone). (Becca Clark / Wrangell Sentinel)
Canoes making 150-mile journey from Wrangell, other Southeast communities to Celebration

Paddlers expected to arrive in Juneau on June 4, one day before biennial Alaska Native gathering.

The Alaska State Capitol and Dimond Courthouse are seen on Thursday morning, Jan. 18. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Judicial Council recommends Alaskans keep all judges, including figure behind correspondence ruling

The Alaska Judicial Council has voted to recommend that state voters retain… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, May 26, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, May 25, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, May 24, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Wreath bearers present wreaths for fallen comrades, brothers and sisters in arms during a Memorial Day ceremony at Alaskan Memorial Park on Monday. Laying wreaths on the graves of fallen heroes is a way to honor and remember the sacrifices made. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
Traditional Memorial Day ceremonies offer new ways to ‘never forget’ those who served

New installations at memorial sites, fresh words of reminder shared by hundreds gathering in Juneau.

Most Read