TAMPA, Fla. — While global events have seen Russian forces brutalize the citizens of Ukraine; in Hyde Park, a Russian-American owned business named Babushka's saw a Ukrainian flag hanging high Saturday night as Ukrainian USF students joined forces with the owners for charity.
“As a Russian-born person, who doesn't even live there, but still, it's terrible what's happened. It's heartbreaking for me. I can’t even understand what people from Ukraine feel right now. But, for me, it's heartbreaking," Babushka's owner Kirill Chemodanov, said.
Chemodanov said he was overjoyed when he got the call from his friend asking to host a charity dinner to help those in Ukraine.
“All the proceeds from the dinner will be donated to Ukraine to the humanitarian fund called Razom," Chemodanov added.
Razom is a Ukranian word meaning together.
“I’m a Ukrainian citizen. My parents and my family are still in Ukraine in the city of Kyiv and I believe that every Ukrainian should react and do whatever he can," said Cherniavsky, who spearheaded the charity dinner.
Cherniavskyi told ABC Action News he leads a group of Ukrainian students on a mission at USF. He said he lives with feelings of constant fear over the war in Ukraine; but at the same time, stands proud and feels empowered to be in a position to help.
“The message is that we believe that every small gesture, every social media post or donation toward our goals, can make a difference and can share principle and help people. That's the main message every day not only this, every day," Cherniavskyi added.
Here at home Chemodanov and Cherniavskyi hope dishes like the semga bruschetta and the shuba salad will feed the soul and help heal the hearts of so many.
“I’m just thankful for people here, locals to support the event to support the suffering people of Ukraine and provide them an opportunity to donate money to Ukraine and just remind everyone, that hey, people there are suffering right now. Please… Support. You can do it on your own at home," Chemodanov said.
The goal was to raise $10,000 and organizers said they believe they've raised around $5,000.