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Ukrainian refugees receive turkeys for their first American Thanksgiving

Organization gifts turkeys to Ukrainian refugees for Thanksgiving
Organization gifts turkeys to Ukrainian refugees for Thanksgiving 02:14

NEW YORK -  A Brighton Beach organization started by a Holocaust survivor is giving back by gifting turkeys to Ukrainian mothers who fled the country during the war.

A line stood outside the headquarters of the Holocaust Remembrance Association on Neptune Avenue. Most of these recipients were invited to pick up turkeys and pies in preparation for their first American Thanksgiving.

"It's our new family," says Alyona Strutovska, who fled Ukraine and is now in America alone.

The HRA was founded by Samuel Bykov, a Holocaust survivor, himself from Ukraine, who came to New York in 1979 as a refugee fleeing the Soviet Union.

"This idea came to us to help ladies, refugees who came with children over here. Their husbands active with war, over there, and we decided to help these mothers and their children," he told CBS2's Hannah Kliger.

"We're seeing leaders, community leaders, who went through this trauma years ago and lost families in the Holocaust, and now in 2022, they find themselves serving a new generation of refugees, people also fleeing war and persecution," said Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus, who represents District 46.

Since the war started, this organization says they had more than 1,600 Ukrainian refugees come through their doors for a variety of services.

"Providing insurance, guiding them to get state identification cards, employment, food, so we try to do what Americans always like to do, which is help others," explains Bill Tinglin, also a member of the Holocaust Remembrance Association.

Some volunteers doing the good deeds, like Taiciia Karpina, are recent refugees themselves. Karpina came in May. 

"They are so happy because they have something to eat for a whole month, they're grateful from their soul," she said in an interview translated to English. 

You can see the gratitude, but you can also see their pain. 

Tatyana Chirva, who stood in line with her 2-year-old son in a stroller to get a turkey, explains tearfully how hard life has been since the war began. 

"Every day I am worried, every day I read the news, my soul is torn at what's happening," she said in translated interview before emotion overwhelmed her.

While happy to be here, Yuliana Cherneha, a widowed mom of four, had just one wish for the holiday. 

"I just want the war to end, so we can go back to our country, and thank you for the hospitality," she said.

The HRA has already sent multiple shipments of supplies for those on the front lines, and is now also gearing up to collect donations and supplies to people affected by the earthquake in Indonesia. 

Have a story idea or tip in Brooklyn? Email Hannah by CLICKING HERE.

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