‘Rally for Relief’ to support Ukrainian refugees

STARKVILLE — The Starkville community is planning a fundraising event, Rally for Relief, in support of humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees. Taking place June 11 at Fire Station Park, the fundraiser will feature live music, a silent auction, kids activities, a candlelight vigil and more.

Though Starkville is thousands of miles away from Ukraine, organizers hope they can do their part in helping those that are suffering due to the on-going crisis.

Derek Willis is part of the group that is leading the event’s organizing. Willis explained they were all motivated to coordinate Rally for Relief out of a desire to help those that are suffering.

“What if it was your family member or your brother or sister, friend or wife? If it was us?” he said. “Ukraine’s a small area, a small population. It could very well be us in their shoes. Our fellow humans need our help.”

The event will begin at 3:30 pm and conclude at 9:30 pm with the candlelight vigil. It will benefit three charitable organizations.

“We wanted to be able to support a broad group and we wanted to be able to raise as much as possible, so when we started looking into the charities — and there’s so many more than just these three — we picked the three target areas that are close to our hearts and close to what we felt the community supports strongly,” said Willis.

One of these organizations is Crumbs from the Table, a Christian ministry whose mission is to positively impact the lives of orphans in eastern Europe. Clint Eaves of Starkville, who started Crumbs from the Table almost ten years ago, has shifted their operations to focus also on aiding refugees.

“Our operation is in Ukraine. So we work with orphans, widows and now refugees. So it started out as an orphan ministry that I started about 10 years ago. And over time, we evolved in helping widows and since the war started, we’ve done a lot of stuff with refugees,” he said.

With personal contacts in Eastern Europe and Ukraine specifically, Eaves and Crumbs from the Table are able to get money and other goods to those who need it, quickly and directly.

“Every little bit matters. A lot of little bits add up to enough that it really makes a difference,” he said. “I’m sending $100 tomorrow to two orphans that are in the refugee center. I mean, they fled the region, and they’ve got food and stuff, but they need a little bit. So to them, it’s gonna be a lot of money.”

The fundraiser will benefit two other organizations. Help Ukraine Volunteers focuses primarily on humanitarian aid, operating out of Illinois with a network of volunteers across the US and in Ukraine. The International Fund for Animal Welfare provides relief by performing animal rescues in Ukraine and helping displaced refugees keep their pets.

As the Rally for Relief event approaches, organizers are seeking volunteers and donations for the silent auction, beverages, art supplies for children’s activities, tables to be used at the event and monetary support.

At the event, barbecue plates will be available for a suggested donation throughout most of the event, and financial contributions are welcomed via Venmo (Starkville Strong), Cash App ($Starkville Strong) and PayPal ([email protected], Checks should be made to Starkville Strong and mailed to 109 South Lafayette St., Starkville, MS.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, more than 14 million Ukranians have been displaced. Some have sought refuge in neighboring countries while others have found themselves unsheltered within the borders of their home country.

“Rally for Relief has turned into a little more of an undertaking than we originally thought. But like I said, me and a few friends, we like to do good work,” said Willis. “We would hope if we were in this situation, someone else around the world would support us the way we’re supporting them.”

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