A homeowners association located in a subdivision of Okanagan Falls is determined to bring at least 1,000 Ukrainians out of war zones and into safety through an upcoming fundraiser.
The Sunflower Festival, led by Jennifer Martison, will begin at 1 p.m. on May 1 for a day of food and music at the Heritage Hill Community Park located 10 minutes south of Penticton.
For Martison, the goal is simple — to raise $27,000 in an effort to bring 1,000 Ukrainians to the Polish border.
“A $27 donation can bring one person — a child or mother or grandmother, to safety,” she said. “Imagine if we could raise $27,000. That would bring 1,000 Ukrainians to safety.”
Martison has been joined by the Heritage Hills Homeowners Association in organizing the event. From recruiting local musicians to securing food trucks and even acquiring paintings for a silent auction, the Sunflower Festivals is expected to have it all for community members ready to get involved in providing assistance for Ukraine.
Musicians Joshua Smith and Will Schlackl will be featured at the event to play covers of songs from Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, sprinkled in with a little Guns N’ Roses and Metallica in the same set, according to event organizers.
“I couldn’t just sit back and watch this human tragedy unfold,” Martison said. “I felt compelled to proactively do my part and help the people of Ukraine.”
The event has been working with registered charity 1000 Rides Out, an organization responsible for previously executing a festival in Oliver. A total of $27,000 was raised that time around, sparking the inspiration for Martison and the homeowners association to organize an event of their own.
And even though the Sunflower Festival is still more than a week away, event planners are already feeling good about the difference they’re going to make for so many in Eastern Europe.
Between 15 to 20 people immediately reached out to Martison and the event’s marketing director, Natasha Sadowy, to offer their volunteers services for the May 1 fundraiser.
“I feel gratified that so many of us in the South Okanagan want to contribute,” Martison said.
“Working together, we can and will make a real difference.”
Admission to the event is free, however, volunteers will be coming around giving people donation slips.
Cash donations will also be accepted.
A silent auction is expected to follow the musical performances from Smith and Schlackl.
Blue and yellow balloons are expected to be displayed at the point in which people will turn on Highland Drive to get to the event at Heritage Hill Community Park.