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Veronica Swanson Beard and Veronica Miele Beard, center, at VB Miami

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International Rescue Committee

#VBGIVESBACK Day

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Thank you to everyone who attended #VBGIVESBACK Day today! Your donations supported the International Rescue Committee and its response to the current crisis in Ukraine and with refugees worldwide. All day long, 10% of retail sales across our stores nationwide benefitted the nonprofit—and that's on top of our donations from every veronicabeard.com order since the launch of our partnership this month.

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And an extra thank-you to our hosts! Here, meet a few with a special connection to Ukraine. They share what it feels like to see the devastation and, most importantly, how we can continue to help...

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Q&A

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KAREN KAY, NEW YORK HOST

What’s your connection to Ukraine?
My whole family (on both sides) were born and raised in Odessa. My parents immigrated to New York in the 1970s so that their yet-to-be-born children could have a better opportunities. Ukraine, which was under Russian control then, was not exactly the place for a Jewish female to thrive!

Could you share what you're feeling right now about the situation there?
Odessa was always a beautiful city rich with culture, but since Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, all of Ukraine has blossomed. It is one of the world’s largest producer of wheat, famous for being able to feed the entirety of Europe. The country has a well developed industrial base, highly trained labor and a great education system. Ukraine for the last 30 years has been a vibrant community of people from all over Europe, representing different religions. And the fashion! There are so many amazing designers working in Ukraine.

What would you like people to know about the country?
It’s a travesty what’s happening there now. I continue to be committed to helping in any way I can and continue to hope for peace.

Karen Kay, left, and Di Petroff at VB Madison

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DI PETROFF, NEW YORK HOST

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What’s your connection to Ukraine?
I was born in Chernivtsi on October 18, 1974, which is located in Western Ukraine. Chernivtsi is one of the most ancient cities in Ukraine and is considered one of its most important educational and architectural sites. The city is also known as "Little Vienna" because of its botanical gardens, architecture, and fountains. It was home to one of the largest Jewish communities in Eastern Europe prior to WWII. My entire family was rooted there.

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Could you share what you're feeling right now about the situation there?
The current situation is beyond heartbreaking on so many levels, but most of all to see something like this happening in 21st-Century Eastern Europe is somewhat shocking. My family on both my mother and father's sides lived through WWII in Ukraine under the reign of Russia's Red Army; my maternal grandfather was a celebrated WWII war hero as seen in the Russian version of the Encyclopedia of Defense, which highlighted prominent Jews who fought. He led the winning battalion against the Nazis and the city of Chernivtzi holds his name in high regard.

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What would you like people to know about the country?
Ukraine is so rich in culture and has produced many significant individuals who have impacted the world: Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Hasidic Judaism Movement; Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel; actress Mila Kunis (she's from Chernivtsi); Olympic ice skater Oksana Baiul, who was the first athlete to represent post-Soviet Ukraine and won a gold medal; Selman Waksman, who discovered antibiotics while doing research at Rutgers University, which led to the first successful treatment of tuberculosis, and was awarded the 1952 Nobel Prize in Medicine, among many more Ukrainian notables.

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Ukrainian refugees at Medyka border crossing point in Poland; all photographs by Francesco Pistilli for IRC ©International Rescue Committee

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ALISA KAPINOS, BOSTON HOST

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What’s your connection to Ukraine?
I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia (when it was called Leningrad, in the former Soviet Union), but my entire family was born in Odessa, Ukraine. As a child, I spent my summers on the Black Sea in Odessa. Russians and Ukrainians are very closely intertwined, sharing traditions, family values, a common language, their love for family, loyalty to friends, and living life to the fullest.

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Could you share what you're feeling right now about the situation there?
So many things come to mind, but I’ll start by saying that I feel immense sadness for the Ukrainian people. They lived in a free country for 30 years and in one day, it was taken away. I feel an immense sadness that they have had to run for their lives and leave everything behind. They've lost their lives, their children, their belongings, and their dignity because of one evil man. I have a close family friend who is stuck in Ukraine right now—he is of military age so he cannot leave. His family is here in America and is trying desperately to get him out—my eyes are welling up with pain for them as I write this. They've had no luck so far, but we’re praying that they get him to safety soon. The only thing I think has helped people feel less guilty about continuing their lives, as these peoples’ lives have been ruined, is giving back and helping in some way. I collected eight enormous boxes through donations of clothing, food, toiletries, toys, books, games, and even duffel bags and things one might need to flee their homes. I packed everything myself and with a generous donation of almost $1,200 from my Instagram followers, I shipped these boxes to the small village where my family friend is living, who is then dispersing it among the villagers to help them and bring some happiness into their lives.

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As a mom, any tips you can share to have this conversation with your kids and teach them to give back?
I think, depending on the ages of the children, you can cater the conversation of war in an informative yet simple way. I’ve been teaching my kids about giving back since they were very little and explain to them that they are very lucky to have bikes, toys and coloring books, even a backyard to play in, and that there are many kids in the world who aren’t as lucky. "How awesome would it be," I ask them, "if we could donate some of our toys so these kids could experience the same joy you feel when you get to color, blow bubbles or ride your bike really fast down the street?" It’s hard for kids to imagine that what they have isn’t what others have, and I think once you explain that very simple concept, they themselves want to help out and give away their toys. My boys helped me organize the toys, stuff the Easter eggs with candy, and my oldest son even offered his laptop (mom-approved) because he said that one of the kids in Ukraine probably needs it more than he does. Teach your kids that there is a world bigger than they’re aware of, that it’s OK to give up a little bit of yourself to help someone else, and that the littlest act of kindness can make a huge impact on someone else.

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CLARA BRILLEMBOURG-CHOPIVSKY, GEORGETOWN HOST

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What’s your connection to Ukraine?
My husband and children are proud Ukrainians.

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Could you share what you're feeling right now about the situation there?
Like so many, I am horrified by the merciless killing that Russia is carrying out day by day and hour by hour against Ukrainian men, women, and children. I am also incredibly moved by the strength of the Ukrainian people, who sacrifice and persevere not only for their homeland, but for the future of democracy and human rights in Ukraine and around the world. We all must follow their example and do more!

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What are the best ways to help?
You can donate: The Ukrainian NGOs doing incredible work on the ground are Razom and Come Back Alive.
You can advocate: Ask those who represent you to send Ukraine the arms and air protection that it needs.
You can help Ukrainians here in the US: Find a local Ukrainian organization, volunteer to help Ukrainians file TPS applications, and offer housing through Airbnb or other organizations.

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ZOE FELDMAN, GEORGETOWN HOST

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What’s your connection to Ukraine?
My mother is a first-generation American whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine, and my father’s grandparents emigrated from Ukraine—so I’m Ukrainian on both sides!

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Could you share what you're feeling right now about the situation there?
My reaction to the humanitarian crisis happening now is likely similar to any other American's. It’s heartbreaking and tragic. As the grandchild of immigrants, I’d always assumed these atrocities were part of the past, and it’s jarring to see this kind of violence resurfacing.

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What would you like people to know about the country?
The experience of Ukrainian culture is a bit removed for me, so I can’t necessarily speak to the culture as a whole, but my grandparents were resilient, tough, resourceful people who embraced the arts and taught me to do the same.

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A mother and her daughter, refugees from Ukraine, having a meal at the Medyka border, photographed by Francesco Pistilli/IRC ©International Rescue Committee

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The Hosts

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MIAMI
Veronica Beard | 4048 NE 1st Avenue
Hosts: Veronica Miele Beard, Veronica Swanson Beard, Alexandra Zand and Alexandra Fritz Khoudari

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PALM BEACH
Veronica Beard | 340 Royal Poinciana Way
Hosts: Loren Hope, Ellen Niven, Ros L’esperance, Tina Roberts, Alison Pappas, Meg Braff, Alexia Ryan and Elizabeth Ainslie

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NEW YORK – UPPER EAST SIDE
Veronica Beard | 988 Madison Avenue
Hosts: Di Petroff, Karen Kay, Marcie Pantzer, Candice Postel, Erica Samuels and Lara Metz

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NEW YORK – SOUTHAMPTON
Veronica Beard | 84 B Main Street
Hosts: Liza Joseph, Catherine Juracich and Ann Pettey

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GEORGETOWN
Veronica Beard | 1254 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Hosts: Alexa Chopivsky, Phaedra Chrousos Luyten, Clara Brillembourg-Chopivsky, Sandra Atta and Zoe Feldman

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BOSTON
Veronica Beard | 145 Newbury Street
Host: Alisa Kapinos

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ATLANTA
Veronica Beard | 211 Buckhead Ave NE
Host: Lynda Brooks

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DALLAS
Veronica Beard | 44 Highland Park Village
Host: Natasha Magee

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From April 1, 2022, to June 30, 2022, Veronica Beard will donate a dollar amount from every sale on veronicabeard.com worldwide, to the IRC, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian aid, relief and resettlement to refugees and other victims of oppression or violent conflict. The company will also donate 10% of all retail sales made in the United States on April 7, 2022  (#VBGIVESBACK) to the IRC. Company guarantees a minimum donation of $150,000 USD. For more information, visit www.rescue.org. No portion of the purchase price is tax-deductible.

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Discover More on VB Edit

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