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Polish Americans in Las Vegas selling pierogies to help Ukrainian dance troupe refugees

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Posted at 2:40 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 17:49:40-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — At night, in their spare time, a group of Polish Americans in Las Vegas have been making pierogies, trying to keep up with demand.

"We sold 5,000 pierogies in an hour," said Edyta Jankowski after their first fundraiser selling the dumplings on Sunday after church. The money is for a Ukrainian dance troupe she met in Poland during an international folk dance festival in 2019.

Jankowski was leading the dance troupe for Our Lady of Las Vegas Roman Catholic Church which has a lot of Polish parishioners.

"We became friends because we shared the dressing room," she said. "They need to know that they are supported, they're not alone."

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Photographs document the group's desperate attempt to flee Ukraine. From waiting more than eight hours to catch a train leaving Kyiv to the cramped conditions they faced while on the train.

"Some of the parents didn't have room in the train, so they left some of their children under the supervision of our friends," Jankowski said.

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Jankowski recently spoke to the leader of the dance troupe.

"I asked her, 'Do you have at least food and water?' And she says, 'No.' And this totally broke me because I knew the journey to even to the borders to Poland is long," she said.

On Sunday they raised more than $7,000 for the group from their pierogi sale.

Much of the support came from other Polish Americans here in the valley, including Margaret, a Henderson mother born and raised in Poland who I have been fortunate to call my wife for nearly 12 years.

"It's just extremely heartbreaking. Seeing the images on TV hearing their stories," said Margaret. She has been keeping in touch with her life-long friend Gosia Cichocka in Poland.

The two grew up together in the small city of Przemysl in southeastern Poland right near the border of Ukraine where tens of thousands of refugees have been coming.

People in that city have been opening their doors to the refugees.

Gosia, wearing blue the photograph below, and her husband took in a Ukrainian mother and her toddler.

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"For these people, it's very hard and we have to be strong, you know?" Cichocka said.

Helping more is what keeps my wife and the people at Our lady of Las Vegas Catholic Church motivated.

"They have actually two babies with them, this particular group, so it's really heartbreaking to really see this," Jankowski said.

Pierogi fundraiser on Sunday, March 13

That is why they are holding another fundraiser this weekend for the dance troupe and their families.

"People are good. People want to help," Jankowski said.

That fundraiser will be this Sunday, March 13, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Our Lady of Las Vegas located at 3050 Alta Drive, near Rancho Drive.

They may run out of pierogies but they will take pre-orders.

Learn more on ollvchurch.org.