A teapot holds crocheted sunflowers at Already Read on Thursday, March 31, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A teapot holds crocheted sunflowers at Already Read on Thursday, March 31, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Crocheted sunflowers raise money for Ukrainian refugees

The flowers are sold in multiple businesses around the central peninsula

Sunflowers are blooming in businesses around the central Kenai Peninsula — but they’re probably not the kind you’re thinking of. The sunflowers — Ukraine’s national flower — are crocheted, locally and by hand, as part of a fundraising campaign to support Ukrainian refugees. All proceeds go to World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that provides meals in the wake of natural disasters and that is currently working to feed Ukrainian refugees.

Susie Smalley, one of the leaders of the local fundraising campaign, said the crocheted flowers can be traced back to last month’s “Standing with Ukraine” demonstration. Organized by Many Voices, a social justice advocacy group headed by Smalley and Michele Vasquez, the event brought community members donned in sunflowers with signs of support to the intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways. “Work for Peace,” one sign said. “We support Ukraine,” said another.

The demonstration was in response to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which drew swift criticism from Western leaders and created 4.2 million Ukrainian refugees.

Smalley said she and others have also launched virtual campaigns for World Central Kitchen. As of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Smalley’s Facebook campaign had raised more than $4,000 for the nonprofit.

The organization set up shop at a 24-hour pedestrian border crossing in southern Poland in late February, “within hours” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the World Central Kitchen website. The group also makes meals available at eight other border crossings around Ukraine as well as supporting local restaurants in Odessa, Lviv and Kyiv.

Smalley said Tuesday that fundraising for groups already working in Ukraine empowers people locally to offer support and makes the process more accessible.

“People need to know ways to give,” Smalley said Tuesday. “Not everyone is connected.”

Working with artist Jenn Ticknor, Smalley estimates there are between eight and 10 people crocheting sunflowers on the central peninsula as part of the fundraiser. The flowers can be found at River City Books in Soldotna as well as Already Read in Kenai, though Smalley said any business interested in participating is welcome. People interested in helping crochet sunflowers are also encouraged to reach out.

“It’s just kind of hit the right spot for people in our community who are looking for a way to donate,” Smalley said.

People interested in contributing to the fundraiser can contact Susie Smalley at 907-283-7469.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated with the correct phone number at which Susan Smalley can be reached.

More in News

Emerson Kapp, second-place winner of the 2023 Caring for the Kenai competition, shows participants how to use her project, the Kenai Peninsula Maze Board, during the Kenai River Festival on Friday, June 9, 2023, at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River Fair to offer education, fun for free on June 8

Kenai Watershed Forum’s annual summer event gets new name, renewed focus on education

A sign marks the entrance of Centennial Park and Campground on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Tree planting event set for Centennial Park

Planting trees in the area is a crucial method for protecting and rehabilitating the streambank, organizers say

Alaska State Troopers logo.
1 dead, 3 missing after boat capsizes near Seward

Alaska State Troopers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard of an overturned vessel around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday

Erosion of the Kenai bluff near the Kenai Senior Center. (Photo by Aidan Curtin courtesy Scott Curtin)
Ribbon-cutting for bluff stabilization project set for June 10

The bluff has been eroding at a rate of around 3 feet per year

A bag of freshly dug razor clams is held aloft at the Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
No clamming in Ninilchik or Clam Gulch this year

Adult abundance “well below” fishery thresholds on both beaches

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai on Monday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Remembering the sacrifices of the fallen

Speakers ask community to be inspired through sacrifice of service members

A fallen tree reaches onto Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, as cars drive by on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Grants, borough to support HEA effort to mitigate dangerous trees

HEA will have permission to enter borough land and the borough’s right of way

Assembly President Brent Johnson asks questions of representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during a joint work session of the School Board and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough to enter contract for asbestos flooring abatement in 3 central peninsula schools

The work will be done at Kenai Central High, Kenai Alternative High and Sterling Elementary schools

Most Read