BRATTLEBORO — Kerry Secrest, Brattleboro resident and Honorary Consul to Vermont for the Republic of Lithuania, and her brother, Christian Stromberg, owner of Saxtons River Distillery, raised more than $15,000 for Ukraine at a fundraiser on Thursday at the distillery in Brattleboro.
The event included both an online auction and an in-person auction for items and services donated by a large number of local residents and others.
Secrest and Stromberg are both of Lithuanian descent. Addressing the large gathering, Stromberg described spending each summer at the Lithuanian heritage camp, Camp Neringa in Marlboro, Vt. There he learned the history of Lithuania, which was occupied by the Soviet Union from 1944 to 1990. He described how the Soviets killed and deported to Siberia and elsewhere over 100,000 Lithuanians. Tens of thousands more were killed fighting the occupation.
After the invasion of Ukraine, Stromberg said, “That’s when I decided I had to do something, to make a difference and not be on the sidelines while new atrocities are committed.”
Addressing the attendees, Secrest, who lived two years in Soviet-occupied Lithuania, said, “I never thought I’d be giving a speech like this, having been witness to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and seeing Apartheid dismantled in South Africa. I thought we had evolved from the mindset of World War II. Yet here we are. However, I hold hope. There is hope because of the heart of the Ukrainian people and the support they have received and will hopefully continue to receive from the world.
“To date over 13,500 Ukrainians have died or been injured, and over 11 million have been displaced, including over 1 million who have been forcibly taken to Russian camps over the border.” Secrest reported.
All of the proceeds of the evening were donated to Blue/Yellow for Ukraine USA, an international nonprofit providing non-lethal supplies to Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers such as medicine, bulletproof vests, clothing and food. Donations can still be made at: https://www.charityauctionstoday.com/auctions/A-Night-for-Ukraine-33327.
Additionally, at this event, Christian launched his new product Snowdrop Vodka, of which a portion of each sale will go to supporting Ukraine.