‘Tasty’ music vital part of Taste of Ukraine fundraiser

  • Markiian Lukyniuk, Ukrainian violinist and current University of Tennessee student, was among the performers for “Taste of Ukraine.” - Photo submitted

  • The big screen gives a condensed version of Markiian Lukyniuk’s bio as he performed during “Taste of Ukraine” Saturday, Dec. 10, in Farragut Community Center. - Photo submitted

  • koloHUB treasurer Oksana Gerlits, left, and koloHUB secretary Ivy Lalonde, along with Lalonde’s husband, Jeff Lalonde, were among the sold-out crowd enjoying the event. - Photo submitted

“Taste of Ukraine in Farragut,” held Saturday, Dec. 10, in Farragut Community Center, was a “huge success,” according to organizers, exceeding its goal and raising $13,800, all of which went to support Ukrainian charities.

The event was described as the “first fundraiser” for the newly-formed koloHUB, a local 501(c)(3) non-profit public benefit organization.

Board members include president Olena Korotych; vice president Olya Popova; secretary Ivy Lalonde; treasurer Oksana Gerlits; and graphic designer Tania Cherneko, who still lives in war-torn Ukraine.

“We had a great turn out — all 144 tickets were sold a few days before the event,” Korotych said.

All proceeds ($10,800) from the online campaign went directly to three selected Ukrainian charities with immediate needs: Children of Heroes (targeting children who have lost one or both parents due to the war); Tabletochki (helping support Ukrainian families whose children are battling cancer); and Happy Paw (providing food, fosters/adoptions and medical assistance for struggling qualified pet shelters in Ukraine).

The additional $3,000 in donations was split between Children of Heroes, which adds 20 to 30 children daily to its program; and Dobrodiy Club to support its project “Warmth” (https://teplo.dobrodiy.club/), which enabled the purchase of 25 sleeping three-piece sets (a sleeping bag, a warm hat and a reusable warmer) for Ukrainian children who are struggling to survive without power and heat in their homes while the war continues.

Special guests included former Knox County Commissioner Evelyn Gill, former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe and Knoxville allergist Dr. Marek Pienkowski. The latter two were presented with framed letters from Oksana Markarova, the Ambassador of Ukraine in Washington D.C., for their exceptional leadership and solidarity with Ukrainian people.

The adults enjoyed wine and a Ukrainian-inspired buffet dinner prepared by Chef Eric Zarycki (grandson of a Ukrainian immigrant) and his team from Aramark Catering.The Spookie Ooos with Yulia Kalnaus’ instrumental music performance was followed by Ukrainian violinist Markiian Lukyniuk, a University of Tennessee student who was a former student at the prestigious Kyiv Conservatory.

While the adults dined, their children were chaperoned in a classroom next door by members of Farragut High School Origami Club and the National Art Honor Society.

The FHS students taught the art of paper folding and led the children’s arts and crafts activities. As a surprise for the kids, Markii made an impromptu appearance.

“The children were so overjoyed with his performance that they joined hands and danced for joy in a circle around him as he played his own versions of popular musical hits,” Lalonde said. “Their enthusiasm was so contagious that two young boys even broke out into ‘break dancing.’”

The koloHUB Board Members wish to thank the event’s donors and sponsors:

Business Sponsors: Aramark Corporation; Architectural Antics – Abram Hanford, Dayton Hanford and Greg Patterson; Dixie Lee Wines & Liquors – Ellen Taylor Jones; Marcos Pizza – Fontez A. Merrifield, Sr.; Meadow View Greenhouses and Garden Center – Lisa Grugin; and the Knoxville Civitan Club.

Individual Sponsors: Alina Blium Anderson, Lucinda Denton, Andrey Khorilin, Daniel Kneller, Inna Krassovski, Olga Miroshnikov, Maxim Lavrentovich, Martha Riordan, Matt Sieger, Maria Snastina, Marina Vaisbourd, Nina Varfolomeeva and Alexander Zhukov.

Top donors: Farron Bolton and the Bolton Insurance Agency team; Dr. Thomas Bradbury; Bryan Chakoumakos; Christopher Clark; Garza Law Firm; Dr. John Law; Alex Kulas; and Joanie Sheuer.   

The koloHUB team also thanks these incredible individuals and organizations who made the event possible: Viktoria Cubbedge (yellow and blue heart decoration); Chef Eric Zarycki and his team from Aramark (food catering); Nadia Dalen (event promotion); Lukyniuk (violin performance), the Spookie Ooos with Yulia Kalnaus (music performance); photographer Elena Ganusova from “It’s All About Life Photography;” numerous FHS students; and many other caring volunteers.

For more information, including how to help, e-mail  contact@koloHUB.com, visit www.koloHUB.com or follow koloHUB on Facebook (@koloHUB) and Instagram (@kolo.hub).