OKEMOS — “You can’t look away from genocide,” Michigan State University law student Neonila Kossak said of the war in Ukraine.
Kossak was born in Ukraine before moving to the United States as a child. She still has family in Ukraine and she said her family is adjusting to a “horrible new normal” with the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war.
Kossak said bringing people together and raising awareness about war increases their power as they push for peace and an end to fighting.
that’s why she thinks it’s great that Meridian Mall’s We Come To You Event Planning is hosting a dance to raise money for UNICEF‘s relief efforts in Ukraine.
“I think 100% that every event, and this event at Meridian Mall, I think when you bring people together who have a common goal and a common goal, you create magic,” she said.
The dance will take place from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, April 23 in the company’s event room in the High Caliber Karting and Entertainment wing of the mall. There is no admission fee, but guests are asked to bring a monetary donation for relief efforts, said business owner Alexis “Alex” Jones.
Jones said he was investing around $5,000 to host the dance. The hall is rented for $1,600 and he spends $1,400 on a DJ, $1,200 on snacks and $800 on decorations.
There will be individually wrapped snacks including chips, cookies, trail mix and beverages. The hall was decorated on April 7 to raise awareness of the event and there are selfie rooms and a backdrop for photos. During the dance, a table will be draped in black with the chairs turned upside down to honor those who died in war in Ukraine, Jones said.
He hopes that during the six hours of dancing, 300 to 400 people will attend. All proceeds will go to UNICEF and if anyone can’t attend, he encourages them to head straight to the UNICEF website to donate to the cause.
“Whatever we raise is more than they have,” he said.
According to German market and consumer data company Statista, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has confirmed that there were 1,964 civilian deaths in the Russian military attack on Iran. Ukraine on Wednesday. Among them, 161 were children. Other reports, such as that of Ukrainian officials in Mariupol, indicate that up to 10,000 people were killed.
In February, UNICEF stepped up its life-saving support to children at risk and their families in Ukraine. The civilian population of the Donbass region was 3.4 million, including 510,000 children, according to the organization’s website.
Jones’ daughter recently had twins and the family is struggling to find formula for them. He realized that families in Ukraine have monumental struggles, with many families running away with only what they can carry, and he feels bad for the kids.
So he wanted to organize the dance for three reasons: if you have the ability to help others, you are meant to help; hosting Ukrainian refugees in Greater Lansing; and because he feels bad for Ukrainians who “didn’t see this coming”.
“They don’t know where the future is,” he said.
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Kossak said she got chills talking about the future as he is so uncertain with this conflict.
“He’s got a big heart,” she said of Jones.
Kossak thinks the dance will have an impact and is thrilled about it, intending to check it out. She thinks it’s good that Jones is honoring the tragic loss of life in the country.
Whether it’s wearing a Ukrainian lapel pin, a yellow and blue ribbon around the wrist, or having a flag hanging from the car, she encourages people to do something to show their support. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, it could be donating to the cause or keeping up to date with the situation.
“The little things go very, very far,” she said.
People can call Jones at 517-614-0739 to find out more. and can visit the We Come To You Event Planning website and Facebook page.