WASHINGTON — Many residents in the D.C. region are coming together to help the people of Ukraine.
Ukraine has been entrenched in a conflict with neighboring Russia since last week when Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to invade.
Several local businesses with ties to Ukraine have held fundraisers to support the eastern European country.
Dacha Beer Garden, in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood, has several managers who were born in Ukraine.
The business held a fundraiser over the weekend where it donated $3 to Ukraine aid efforts for every pint sold on its premises. So far, Dacha has raised more than $3,100 for Ukrainian aid.
It plans to hold several more fundraising events this week as well.
“As our families remain under extreme risk, we’re looking for ways to support them as much as possible,” said Dacha Beer Garden Manager Ilona Molyavchyk.
sPACyCLOUd, a vegan restaurant and skate shop in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, also plans to hold a fundraising event, on Wednesday, for Ukraine.
The event will coincide with the eastern European holiday of Maslenitsa, according to the restaurant’s owner Tatiana Kolina. Ukrainian food and drink will be served to customers and portion of the night’s proceeds will go toward Ukraine as well.
Kolina, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, had parents who were born in both Russia and Ukraine.
She said she still communicates with people in both countries.
“It's very heartbreaking because I also speak to my friends in Russia and some are very aware of what's going on and some are confused because they get misinformation from Putin-controlled media, and it's a very frustrating,” Kolina said. “Some people are divided and it's just breaking my heart.”
Unfortunately, however, some people have resorted to hate in the D.C. area.
Over the weekend, the Metropolitan Police Department responded to Russia House restaurant on Connecticut Avenue NW, in Dupont Circle, for vandalism.
Russia House co-owner Aaron McGovern said someone busted several windows to his business. MPD classified the incident, which McGovern says may have caused roughly $20,000 of damage, as a suspected hate crime.
“I was cleaning up the mess yesterday and there was somebody basically, just flicking off the building, [and] flipping me off,” he said.
Both McGovern and his co-owner are American citizens. Either way, he said he can’t understand why someone would treat another person this way based upon what country they are from.
“I was taught in US history the melting pot theory of immigrants that have come to our country for a better life and for a better place to stay and a safer environment,” he said. “It's shameful that we have this kind of rhetoric.”
McGovern said his restaurant had been hit hard by the pandemic and the resulting COVID-related restrictions. He said he had planned to reopen Russia House in mid-March, but now he said it will likely be closed indefinitely.