CASEY: A bag of ideas on how to show support for Ukraine | Local News

In the wake of Russia’s unprovoked attack on its southeast neighbor Ukraine, there is no shortage of folks in West Virginia wondering what ordinary Americans can do to symbolize their support for the people. Ukrainian.

This column presents three ideas along these lines. They range from the sublime to the ridiculous (but quite funny). The good thing about them is that they make it easy for the average person in the Roanoke or New River valleys to jump on the Ukraine bandwagon.

The first idea is to plant sunflowers, and it comes from Tom Kennedy, who lives in the Old Southwest neighborhood of Roanoke.

“The national flower of Ukraine is a sunflower,” the radio industry veteran noted in an email. “I think it would be nice if the people of Roanoke were encouraged to plant sunflowers in their flower beds as a show of solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Maybe the Roanoke Parks Department could plant sunflowers in city parks and lawns? »

Believe it or not, his idea is gaining momentum. By the time I reached Kennedy on the phone, he had already discussed brainstorming with Chris Chittum, Deputy City Manager of Roanoke.

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“Those I’ve talked to, including Parks and Rec, think it’s a great idea too and want to be supportive in terms of identifying good locations,” Chittum said. “It would be great as a community-led project with the city in a supporting role.”

At least one well-known group of ardent gardeners are making sunflower plans as you read this. It’s the Mill Mountain Garden Clubwho takes care of a huge flower garden outside the entrance to the Mill Mountain Zoo.

“I love the idea of ​​planting sunflowers there, and I’ve checked with the members who oversee the garden,” said Kay Strickland, president of the garden club. “Sunflower fits very well with our vision and mission for our pollinator garden.”

The nectar from sunflowers not only reduces pest populations, Strickland said, but the flowers also attract bees, nature’s best pollinators. Virginia bee populations have been stressed and declining for years. So planting sunflowers could help alleviate a real problem here, in addition to serving as a symbol of moral support for Ukrainians.

A family sunflower farm just south of Buchanan joined the planting effort earlier this month, promising to donate packets of sunflower seeds for free.

beaver dam farm along US 11 has been in the family of Candace Monaghan since 1900. For most of this stretch it served as a 600-acre dairy farm, and now most of the land is used to raise cattle.

But in 2016, the Monaghans also planted 20 acres of sunflowers. Since then they also sell seeds – last year’s yield was 24,000 lbs. In recent years, the farm has held an annual Sunflower Festival in September. Last year, it drew 20,000 people from 24 different states, she said.

The seed donation, however, ended because Beaver Dam Farm quickly ran out of its 250 packets of sunflower seeds. It happened after NBC Nightly News aired its offer to millions of Americans.

After the news broke, “people were calling and asking for 600 packs,” Monaghan said.

Since then, the Monaghan family has decided to donate 30% of the proceeds from the sale of seeds to relief efforts in Ukraine. (Beaver Dam Farm sunflower seeds are also retailed in 20 pound bags as bird food at Northwest Hardware electrical outlets, Ikenberry Orchards in the county of Botetourt and The best place for antiques at Buchanan.)

There are also many websites where you can buy sunflower seeds in small packets, often for as little as $5 per packet.

Monaghan told me that sunflowers can be planted any time after the last frost. At first, they need good amounts of water. The full growth cycle is eight weeks, she said. (In week 6 or 7, the average sunflower can grow 19 to 20 inches in a week, she added.)

Flowers aren’t the only way people show their support for Ukraine and its beleaguered citizens. the Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke distributes small yellow and blue surveyors’ flags – which correspond to the colors of the national flag of Ukraine.

Jessie McKeon, the church’s faith development director, said the idea grew out of a children’s vigil for Ukraine that the church held last weekend.

Most church vigils feature some form of burning candles. But McKeon felt it wouldn’t be a good idea to put them in the hands of young children. McKeon therefore decided to use yellow and blue surveyors’ flags instead.

McKeon ordered 100 of each online through Ace Hardware, which cost $20 in total. The church has extras that residents can pick up if they wish. The address is 2015 Grandin Road, and the church is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., McKeon said.

McKeon will also be there Sunday after services, between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., and said people who want flags should text (540) 358-1588 to arrange pickups.

The last suggestion of ways to support Ukraine is the most bizarre of all. It is also the most literary and the funniest. For that, we can thank Curtis Ray Cox Sr. of Blacksburg, who obviously knows a lot more about Harry Potter than I do.

“The question we will address is how to help Russian President Vladimir Putin find a way out of Ukraine while keeping face and maintaining his position,” wrote Cox, whose nicknames are “Skeebo” and “ the finest wise donkey in Bitter Hill”. .”

His theory revolves around an imaginary Harry Potter character named Dobby the Elf, who bore a striking resemblance to Putin in one of the Harry Potter films, Cox wrote.

In the plot, Dobby is a house-elf in the Malfoy family. But he is under the spell of some evil wizards who cause him to act less than pure. When another character throws a sock in the air which Dobby catches, it breaks the spell and frees Dobby from the wizards’ control.

Cox’s idea is for people to send a single sock, addressed to Putin, in care of the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC. The only problem was that Cox didn’t have their address, which is why he wrote to yours truly.

In case you are interested, you can send these socks to Vlad the Conqueror, c/o Russian Embassy, ​​2560 Wisconsin Ave., Washington, DC 20007.

Cox thinks that if a single sock from the Blue Ridge gets to Putin, it could break the current bloodthirsty and fascist spell the belligerent dictator seems to be suffering from.

“Like this, Dobby [aka Putin] can say he was under the power of an evil lord who made him invade a neighboring nation,” Cox wrote. So Putin can withdraw Russian forces from Ukraine and keep his ego intact.

As I mentioned earlier, this is an extremely bizarre idea. But who knows? It could have a profound effect.

Especially if you wear that sock for about three weeks before sending it off.

Contact Subway Columnist Dan Casey at 981-3423 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter:@dancaseysblog.

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