San Francisco's only Ukrainian restaurant, Pushkin, and One House Bakery — an artisanal bakeshop located in Benicia — recently held separate fundraising events to aid humanitarian efforts spurred by the war ravaging Ukraine and leaving at least 1.5 million people to flee the country.
As Russia continues its advancements (and occupations) in Ukraine, most of the world is left to sit back and watch these events unfold from behind an LCD or OLED screen. With Russia's previously agreed-upon ceasefire — which was enacted to allow for civilian evacuation strategies to resume in the country — now crumbling amid reports of shelling in residential areas, people located thousands of miles away from the conflict are wanting to help. On Saturday, hundreds of Bay Area residents dined out in solidarity with Ukraine, participating in two separate local fundraiser events.
There's no safe place in #Ukraine, and the situation is changing by the hour.— Save the Children US (@SavetheChildren) February 25, 2022
We're ready to provide assistance such as food, water & safe places for kids as people flee amid freezing temperatures and brutal conditions.
But we need your help. Donate now. https://t.co/87YU044jMJ
Pushkin in San Francisco is usually closed on weekends, but the city's gastronomic touchstone for authentic Ukrainian cuisine opened its doors on Saturday for a special fundraiser. As noted by KPIX, owner Sergey Shukaylo organized the event to give all the proceeds from the sale of piroshkis — a traditional deep-fried pastry filled with meat, potato, or vegetables — to Ukrainian relief efforts.
Word spread quickly of the event, traveling far and wide across the Bay Area. A self-knighted foodie, Aditi Lonhari traveled from Half Moon Bay to contribute to the fundraiser and try a piroshki for the first time.
“I had heard of Pushkin but I hadn’t had a chance to come to try it out,” Lonhari tells the news outlet. “This is the first time I’m trying Ukrainian food, so it’s going to be an exciting thing for me.”
By the time they closed their doors, over a hundred patrons had placed orders, collectively raising thousands of dollars for ongoing humanitarian aid actions in Ukraine. In fact, Pushkin's was so busy Saturday that it had to start turning people away at the door by the afternoon.
While restaurant-goers were flooding the city’s sole Ukrainian restaurant, across the San Francisco Bay in Benicia saw purveyors of baked goods converge at One House Bakery to purchase Ukrainian pastries — the entirety of those sales going to nonprofits assisting the Ukraine people.
But for bakery owner Hannalee Pervan, Ukrainian recipes were not in her wheelhouse; she had to literally google “Ukrainian family recipes" in order to host her fundraiser.
“They were calling for, like, glasses of the stuff, like ‘two glasses of flour’ and I was trying to figure out what a glass of flour was. Like, is it the equivalent to a cup?” she said to KPIX. Logistical hurdles aside, Pervan and her team managed to create ten different pastries that they’ve been selling during the week to raise money for Save the Children; the global nonprofit is currently providing sustenance and other essentials for Ukrainian refugees.
Pervan is still in disbelief that the Ukraine war is unfolding. But while she noted it's easy to feel helpless, it's essential to change the paradigm from absolute surrender to performing small (or large) acts of solidarity.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s happening,” Pervan continued to KPIX. “It’s just, I don’t know, you feel helpless and you don’t know what you can do. So, you just think ‘OK, how can I make some type of a difference?'”
By the end of the Saturday, One House Bakery sold out of all their Ukrainian pastries, having nearly reached its $10K fundraising goal.
For additional ways to donate toward Ukrainian relief efforts, NPR has assembled a fairly comprehensive list of national and global nonprofits offering aid in the country; that list of philanthropic endeavors can be found here.
Image: Courtsy of pushkinsf.com