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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Nguyen

Peace for Ukraine

Local Compassion Helps Ukrainian Refugees

Story by Teresa Nguyen

October, 2022

The Start of an Idea

Back in April, 2022, at the height of the attacks on Ukraine by Russia, a committee of concerned Janesville citizens organized a “Music for Ukraine” fundraising event, including speeches and performances by area musicians.

Kay and Neil Deupree - Photo by Kim Hoholek Photography

The whole idea began with a fundraising idea from Janesville’s Kay Deupree. One by one the rest, Neil Deupree, Jeanne Carfora, Kathleen Holcombe, Nancy Stabb, Teresa Nguyen and Carole Kies, joined in the efforts. The musicians also stepped in without hesitation, as did the speakers and local organizations lending their support.

Music for Ukraine

The fundraiser, held on April 9th, 2022 in Janesville’s Old Towne Mall, aimed to raise both awareness and donations for Ukrainian refugees. Both upper floors of the mall were packed with attendees. The speeches were heartfelt and the carefully chosen music danced on the air, touching the souls of the listeners. Tears were shed. The community was ready to do something to make a difference.

Photos of the "Music for Ukraine" event by Kim Hoholek Photography

The organizing committee had also designed “Music for Ukraine” t-shirts, printed by MMPR Powered by HALO, and sold 50 of them to attendees.

That April afternoon, the “Ukraine Squad”, as they were nicknamed, collected $15,162 in both donations and t-shirt sales plus another $2,825 in pledged donations. It was a very successful event! Watch the Music for Ukraine Event video produced by JATV Media Services here:

More T-Shirts

The demand for the t-shirts continued, so the Ukraine Squad ordered 150 more shirts, which were generously sponsored, to continue the fundraising at the Janesville Farmers Market. As the demand grew and shirts were selling, another 200 t-shirts were ordered from MMPR Powered by HALO, with the words on the shirts changed from "Music for Ukraine" to "Peace for Ukraine". The colors and design remained the same with a blue and yellow heart held in two hands and the words Janesville, WI at the bottom.

100% of the proceeds of shirt sales could go to support the refugees of the war thanks to the generous $1,200 sponsorship by these organizations and friends: S & J Consulting, Matt Krueger of k.f. Wealth management, MacFarlane Pheasants, JAX Custom Printing, Camilla Owen, First Congregational Church and MMPR Powered by HALO.

The funds collected from the sales were donated to the following refugee organizations; UNICEF, The UN Refugee Agency, The American Red Cross and Church World Service.

The Outcome

On October 1st, 2022, the Ukraine Squad had their final Farmers Market booth selling “Peace for Ukraine” t-shirts. The committee is happy to report that over the summer, an additional $2,640 was raised from the t-shirt sales to push the total of fundraising for Ukrainian refugees to over $20,600!

Ukraine Squad members, Kathleen Holcombe and Carole Kies, at the Janesville Farmers Market

This amazing outcome was due to the generosity and kindness of the many people in our community who stepped up and donated. They are the ones who made it possible to help the Ukrainian refugees, who are still experiencing immense suffering in Russia’s military aggression in their country.

Compassion from Janesville

In addition to the sponsors, a group of wonderful volunteers and community organizations also came forward to help with both the event and with the Janesville Farmers Market booths, selflessly giving of their time and energy. Thanks goes to Brian Knutson, Christine Rebout, Jackie Wood, Jamie Swenson, JATV Media Services, Linda Belknap, Nancy Sonntag, Paula DeRubeis, The Rev. Dr. Tanya Sadagopan, Knapton Musik Knotes, The Janesville Community Center, Janet Irvine, Kim Hoholek, Suzanne Hamilton, Dan and Joyce Heussner, Dung Nguyen, Claire Olsen, Dr. Mitchell Kopnick, Jacob Kopnick and Yuri Rashkin for helping with the cause. Janesville really stepped up!

It’s so heartbreaking to witness from far away. We live in a land of peace and prosperity So, for many of us, it is hard to fathom losing everything to war. Yet, it is also heartwarming to see the outpouring of compassion in our own community here in Wisconsin.

The "Ukraine Squad" L-R: Jeanne Carfora, Carole Kies, Neil Deupree, Kay Deupree, Nancy Stabb, Kathleen Holcombe, Teresa Nguyen and former Gazette reporter, Harrison Freuck

Kay Deupree reflected on the fundraising effort, “I’m amazed. When I was feeling like we should do something, I didn’t quite know what it would be. So, I really appreciated the committee members’ input of all the possibilities. Each person knew who to ask to help and it really took off! I’m also very impressed with the community’s response. It’s encouraging to see that people have a heart for those who are in a much more difficult situation.”

Our community is known for its volunteerism and generosity toward our own, local nonprofits. But we are also, quite obviously, caring and compassionate about those far from our own borders. We should feel grateful for all we have and very proud of our Rock County, Wisconsin community!

Please continue to donate toward the refugee organizations mentioned in this story and continue to pray for peace in Ukraine!


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