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Jacksonville woman hosts Ukrainian Independence Day event to raise money for medical supplies

Wednesday marks Ukraine's 31st Independence Day and exactly six months since Russia's invasion.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Wednesday is Ukraine's independence day and marks exactly six months since Russia's invasion.

In a security alert issued Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine urges Americans to leave, expecting Russia to increase strikes. Ukraine's president is also warning of increased Russian attacks.

A Jacksonville woman whose brother is now in a Ukrainian hospital is hosting an event Saturday at Mandarin Park for Ukrainian Independence Day. There will be performances, a picnic with Ukrainian food and an auction. Money raised will go toward buying medical supplies for Ukrainian hospitals.

"I know many people are tired of news from Ukraine," said Maryna Kovalchuk, the event organizer. "War is still present and people die and our children die."

It's now been half a year that Kovalchuk's life has been dedicated to supporting her home country. That now means especially supporting her brother in Ukraine.

"My youngest brother, he's in Army and he is wounded and he's in a hospital right now," she said, showing First Coast News a picture. "I hope he will be okay."

In the last six months, Kovalchuk has helped collect about $50,000 to buy and transport around 50 bags of medical supplies such as gauze and bandages to Ukrainian hospitals via volunteers. She says money raised Saturday will get more supplies overseas to people like her brother. Kovalchuk's mother-in-law and father-in-law are also in central and western Ukraine and she says they are safe.

"I feel heartbroken all the time because terrible news about cities, about people, about friends of my friends," Kovalchuk said. "I try to my way to help my people in Ukraine. It's helped me not forget about war, but it's given me some help all will be alright."

The event Saturday at Mandarin Park begins at 4:00 p.m. You're encouraged to bring food, folding chairs, tables and friends.

Find more information about the event here.

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