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Arlington residents turn out at local yard sale to raise money for Ukrainian children

(Updated on 5/18) A local family raised nearly $2,000 holding a yard sale this past weekend to help children impacted by the war.

Constantin, a Ukrainian-American who lives in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood and flew flags on 1-66 overpasses earlier this year, held the sale in his front yard Saturday morning in support of the D.C. area non-profit United Help Ukraine.

The funds will specifically go to the Hibuki Therapy Project, a program that pairs toy stuffed dogs and specialized therapists with children impacted by the ongoing war.

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“It’s important to [bring] attention to the victims of the war,” Constantin told ARLnow via phone as he was rehanging Ukrainian and American flags over I-66. He asked his last name not be used for safety concerns.

He placed flyers for the yard sale near the Westover Library, the Lee-Harrison shopping center, and Nottingham Elementary. They attracted attention.

It was a “very strong turn out,” Constantin says, with neighbors donating both items and money to the effort. In all, he believes they made at least $1,600, though probably more since some folks donated money without buying items.

He held the yard sale not only to raise money to help those back in his homeland, but to show his own children how they can make a difference.

“I wanted to show my children how… they can take a specific thing, sell it, make money, and how it can go to a specific cause in Ukraine,” he says.

All of the money went to United Help Ukraine, which focuses on providing medical supplies and basic needs to Ukrainian refugees.

The local nonprofit has raised $25 to $30 million since Russia’s invasion in late February, President Maryna Baydyuk tells ARLnow. Through the Hibuki Therapy Project, 1,000 toy dogs have already been distributed to Ukrainian refugee children. The hope is to manufacture and distribute 6,000 in total, Baydyuk says, as well as train dozens of counselors who can help while the kids are at the refugee camps.

“Children are the most vulnerable group of refugees, so we want to focus on their psychological help,” Baydyuk says.

This yard sale won’t be the end of Constantin and his family’s efforts. He’s currently planning a block party fundraiser for early June that will give his East Falls Church neighbors. Even after close to three months of war, Constantin said it’s clear to him that Arlingtonians are still very much aware of and concerned about the ongoing human toll from the invasion.

“It’s very heart-warming as an American to see the number of Ukrainian flags going up in Arlington,” he said. “They are still everywhere.”

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