[Co-Presidents Seoyun Paek (Far left) and Albert Kang (Far right) explaining the fundraiser for Ukraine]
On Memorial Weekend, the annual ViVa Vienna Festival took place in Vienna, VA. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Vienna, ViVa Vienna is a fundraiser for the Rotary Club celebrating the community while honoring Memorial Day. Although there are a variety of food vendors, games and rides throughout the entire weekend, community groups, political parties and candidates, artisans, retail vendors and other professional groups are able to set up booths on Church Street on the 29th and 30th of May.
Hiking Heroes, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, aims to support well-being, protect the environment, spread awareness, and hike. After its birth in Fairfax County, Virginia of 2019, the organization grew and branched out across the United States to make chapters in Northern and Southern California, Maryland, and New Jersey.
When the members of Hiking Heroes first heard of the Ukraine crisis in late February, they met and discussed what initiatives could be taken to make an effort to help the country. Once it was decided to host a fundraiser, crucial details of where, when, and how needed to be determined.
[Handmade products on display: soap, loofahs, and bracelets]
Through research and planning over several months, the group came across the ViVa Vienna Festival. Having been to the festival multiple years, members of the organization decided to commit to fundraising for Ukraine through selling products and hosting games to target an audience of all ages. On May 2nd, the group met in-person to make soap and bracelets to sell at the fundraiser and plan for Ddakji, a traditional South Korean game using tiles made of folded paper.
[Group picture taken on Monday, May 30th, during one of the shifts]
During the two days at the ViVa Vienna Festival, members of Hiking Heroes signed up for shifts to work the booth. Members were able to bond with each other, fundraise for Ukraine, and make connections with people in the community. At the end of the festival, a grand total of around $2000 was raised which will be going directly to help Ukraine refugees during this difficult time.
Although Hiking Heroes is an environment-focused organization, they will continue to make efforts in helping Ukraine and other major issues happening locally, nationally, and globally.