ALACHUA ‒ The Alachua City Commission meeting of Jan. 8, 2023 was all about the City Commission showing appreciation for those who help and serve others.

Each year, on Jan. 9, the men and women who serve as Law Enforcement Officers are honored by declaring the day as National Law Enforcement Day in recognition of those that put their lives on the line to protect and serve the community as a whole. These men and women put the citizens of Alachua as their priority to prevent crime and violence, help those in need, or in emergency situations, and saving lives through their quick actions and knowledge. The Commission honored the Alachua Police Department with eight officers in attendance and posed for group photos.

The Commission next heard about humanitarian efforts to help the displaced civilians and children of Ukraine whose lives have been turned upside down by the war being waged by Russia, turning much of their homeland into devastated ruins. Russia's brutal attack on civilian infrastructure has destroyed much of the power grid and utilities leaving civilians at the mercy of a harsh upcoming winter.

Vaishnava International Relief Association (VIRA, Inc.) is a nonprofit humanitarian organization located in Florida. Their mission is to uphold universal moral values, protect and support the innocent and oppressed and to contribute to projects designed to improve society at large.

The organization’s president is Ukrainian Andriy Egorovets, who worked with local Hare Krishna members Leah Bielat and Nisha (Nandini Kishori) to create a charity event held Oct. 8, 2022 at ISKCON Alachua Temple called ONE DAY FOR UKRAINE.

The event welcomed over 500 visitors from Gainesville’s interfaith communities to help raise money and awareness for those affected by the war. The event featured Ukrainian food, ethnic crafts for sale, an art auction live music, games for children, henna and face painting as well as hayrides. The event raised over $8,000 and 1,200 pounds of donated clothes and toys. All of the proceeds will be spent on the needs of children in an orphanage in Dnipro and 150 displaced people in a nearby community.

“The event was just a small portion of what help the displaced civilians of Ukraine need and we will be continuing our efforts as will the Bhaktivedanta Krishna community,” said Egorovets. “Right now, Ukraine is suffering from attacks on the energy system. People are facing a tough situation. They desperately need autonomous power generators that we are hoping we can get donated from the community.”

The final certificates of Appreciation from the City was to honor the artwork of the students from the Bhaktivedanta Academy whose work has been displayed in the City Hall foyer. The students contributed over 70 pieces of art to the “Art Through The Eyes Of A Child” Exhibit with many of the works being sold to add funds to the Ukraine relief effort. The remaining art pieces will be sent with the money and clothing donations that are going to Ukraine to be given to the children at the orpahnage to hopefully bring a bit of joy and show that children from America care about them.

#     #     #

Email rcarson@