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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – It’s not easy to see some of the images from the war in Ukraine. And it’s especially difficult for Ukrainians who live in the United States and still have family in the war zone.
Olga and Nick Nikolayenko left Ukraine for the United States about five years ago. Today, Olga is a florist in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has found a way to help her home country from afar.
The couple say they were shocked when the war broke out, but eventually realized they needed to continue living a normal life as best they could.
“Sept. 11 happens every day – that’s the feeling,” Olga said.
For Olga, who ran her flower business, called Livilove flowers, is not a priority at the moment. Instead, she and Nick think of family and friends in Ukraine.
“You’re like. Alright. It’s 50/50 whether they die or survive,” Nick said.
“Your hometown, you look at it, and of course it’s really scary,” Olga said.
A large part of Olga’s family is still in kyiv. They have regular phone records.
“Was the house bombed or did you hear something near the house? Nick asks regularly.
Nick is no stranger to living near conflict. He is from the recently annexed Donbass region. Shortly before moving to the United States, Nick says two of his close friends were killed “when the shell fell right in front of them”, he described.
So far, Nikolayenko’s family is safe. In fact, Olga’s mother, Galina Kucher, works with the Ukrainian Chapter of Operation Blessinga US-based humanitarian organization that helps bring food, clothing and medicine to refugees.
She helped a group unload three semi-trucks full of donations that arrived at Ukraine’s western border last week.
“We’ve helped over 10,000 people,” Kucher told Fox News via Zoom.
Back in Charlotte, Olga sells special bouquets with all proceeds going to Operation Blessing. The bouquets are blue and yellow, imitating the Ukrainian flag. They also feature sunflowers, the country’s official flower.
“If we do little things, everyone, we will change the world,” Olga said.
Special bouquets can only be delivered in the Charlotte area, but Olga says a number of people have donated money without asking for flowers.