Montrose Exceeds Goal for Ukraine Fundraiser


Samantha Martin

Mrs. Roberts helps sixth-grader Lucy Fickie decorate her Pysanky egg during the sixth graders’ Day for Ukraine.

Much like the rest of the world, the Montrose community looked on in horror on February 24, 2022, as Russian president Vladimir Putin invaded the Donbas region of Ukraine. The 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea had revived tension between the two nations that lingered from Ukraine’s divergence from the Soviet Union in 1991, but the threat of invasion became even more immediate with the December deployment of Russian troops at the nation’s borders. Since the full scale invasion began in February, thousands of Ukrainian civilians have lost their lives and over 11 million people have left their homes in search of safety. Outraged nations around the globe have responded to the attack by establishing sanctions on Russia and by sending aid to the Ukrainian military, refugee services, and other organizations on the ground helping citizens. Non-profit operations, as well as private companies like AirBNB, are using their resources to support the Ukrainian people and to provide avenues for individuals to donate to the cause. 

Eager to take action in what otherwise felt like a hopeless situation, members of the Montrose faculty and Student Government invited teachers and upper school students to an introductory meeting to brainstorm a way to raise money for an organization that was helping Ukraine. In our first two meetings, we drafted a plan to last about four weeks, made a list of possible donation sites, and racked our brains for fundraising methods that would engage Montrosians week after week. At Common Homeroom on March 24, Stud Gov introduced a schedule involving four clubs, presented a fundraising goal of $1,000, and called for the support of each member of the student body to raise money for the Red Cross of Ukraine. Faculty Stud Gov advisor and Dean of Students Mrs. Derendorf commented on the initial presentation. “[The Stud Gov Execs] successfully engaged the entire Montrose community to come together to work toward a common and noble goal— fostering solidarity with the people of Ukraine by responding to their plea for help as their dignity as human persons have been threatened,” she said.

The first week’s opinion box initiative was the brainchild of Faith Chen ’22, who had seen Starbucks workers on TikTok use a similar tactic to earn tips. Each day, two boxes in the cafeteria presented two different opinions: doors vs. wheels, wearing socks in bed in the summer vs. showering with socks on in the winter, apple juice vs. orange juice, Spotify vs. Apple Music, and (the overwhelming favorite) Team Peeta vs. Team Gale. Students could add cash and loose change to the box that they preferred, and Faith reported the winning box via email at the end of the day. “I parlayed this idea over to the Ukraine Initiative— excited, but also a little unsure of the outcomes, because it was a new way for Montrose to fundraise,” Faith said. “Through a good deal of advertising the Poll event on social media, the Montrose daily bulletin, and begging people in the hallways and cafeteria, word of this new fundraiser got around!” The endeavor was a huge success— the boxes raised over $250 and served as a promising start for the weeks to come.  

Ever-present in the discussion surrounding service at Montrose, the Bake a Change club naturally surfaced as a crucial contributor to the Ukraine relief project. Week Two was crowned “Bake a Change Week,” as members of the club worked their magic to produce a different treat that Stud Gov raffled off each day. Club leader and Model UN expert Ava Russo ‘23 masterfully wove her passion for the subject with her baking and organizing experience. The week culminated in the Montrose production of Matilda, where Bake a Change sold baked goods on both Friday and Saturday night. 

Described by Executive Vice President Catherine Olohan ‘22 as a “smorgasbord of activities,” Week Three involved a sixth grade Day for Ukraine and a much anticipated all school Tag Day. That Monday, sixth graders learned about different elements of Ukrainian culture in their History and English classes, and decorated traditional Pysanky eggs as an art project— a venture that was also available to the rest of the Montrose community during the month of April. “It was really inspiring learning about the Ukrainian people and their culture,” said Kiley Wolcott ‘28, who participated in the day’s activities. The next day, Stud Gov— who had been pushing for a Tag Day since the beginning of the year— collected $5 from all Montrosians who chose to wear blue and yellow colors instead of the usual red and gray. Blue and yellow are significant colors to the people of Ukraine because they are the colors that are exhibited on their flag. As expected, the event produced a huge sum of money, tipping us over the edge of our goal of $1,000 before the fourth week even began. 

Throughout the four weeks, Montrose faculty members spearheaded an opportunity for students to participate in a Ukrainian tradition while also raising money. Pysanky eggs are a tradition in Ukraine, where one decorates eggs in a variety of intricate patterns. They were originally believed to have powers that ward away evil spirits. Montrose students could buy wooden eggs and paint them like a traditional Pysanky egg. On the last week, Mrs. Lashmit opened an online auction where students and parents could buy one of the selected eggs. Thanks to parents and Montrose’s own talented artists, the auction contributed $270 to the fund!

Although the initiative is complete, the Montrose community continues to pray for and pursue opportunities to help the citizens of Ukraine who are suffering. Our hope is that, in addition to the contribution to the Red Cross, the endeavor served as a small but still significant act of solidarity for an extremely difficult situation extending far beyond 29 North Street.

Kristina Klauzinski ‘24,  Rising Assistant Sports Editor