A homeowners association in a subdivision of Okanagan Falls is determined to get at least 1,000 Ukrainians out of war zones and to safety with an upcoming fundraiser.
The Sunflower Festival, led by Jennifer Martison, kicks off at 1 p.m. on May 1 for a day of food and music at Heritage Hill Community Park located 10 minutes south of Penticton.
For Martison, the goal is simple: raise $27,000 to bring 1,000 Ukrainians to the Polish border.
“A donation of $27 can put a person – a child, a mother or a grandmother – to safety,” she said. “Imagine if we could raise $27,000. This would bring 1,000 Ukrainians to safety.
Martison was joined by the Heritage Hills Homeowners Association in organizing the event. From recruiting local musicians, securing food trucks, or even acquiring paintings for a silent auction, Sunflower Festivals should offer it all to community members willing to get involved in aid to Ukraine.
Musicians Joshua Smith and Will Schlackl will be at the event to play covers of songs by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, sprinkled with a bit of Guns N’ Roses and Metallica in the same set, according to organizers of the event.
“I couldn’t just sit and watch this human tragedy unfold,” Martison said. “I felt compelled to proactively do my part and help the people of Ukraine.”
The event worked with registered charity 1000 Rides Out, an organization previously responsible for running a festival in Oliver. A total of $27,000 was raised that time, prompting Martison and the homeowners association to organize their own event.
And even though the Sunflower Festival is still more than a week away, event organizers are already feeling satisfied with the difference they will make for so many people in Eastern Europe.
Between 15 and 20 people immediately contacted Martison and the event’s marketing manager, Natasha Sadowy, to offer their services as volunteers for the May Day fundraiser.
“I’m glad so many of us in the South Okanagan want to contribute,” Martison said.
“By working together, we can and will make a real difference.”
Admission to the event is free, however, volunteers will be handing out donation slips to people.
Cash donations will also be accepted.
A silent auction is expected to follow Smith and Schlackl’s musical performances.
Blue and yellow balloons should be displayed at the point where people will turn onto Highland Drive to get to the event at Heritage Hill Community Park.