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Ukrainian refugees are "thankful" to spend Thanksgiving in Philly

Ukrainian refugees are "thankful" to spend Thanksgiving in Philly
Ukrainian refugees are "thankful" to spend Thanksgiving in Philly 02:00

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Ukrainian refugees in Philadelphia are sitting down for their very first Thanksgiving.  As they enjoy a feast with other refugees, they're wishing for peace back in their homeland. 

In Ukraine, the closest holiday to Thanksgiving is Independence Day, where they celebrate with borscht and pierogies. 

For Thanksgiving, it'll be all American food, including the traditional favorites of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. 

It's a special Thanksgiving for St. Nicholas Patriarchal Orthodox Cathedral. The church is hosting 14 Ukrainian refugees for dinner. 

"I feel excited because it is my first Thanksgiving in the U.S.A., in Philly," Oleksii Pasichniak, a Ukrainian refugee said.  

Dinner began with a song, a prayer, then food and a story. 

Since March, the church has been providing housing to the 14 refugees in the rectory after they fled their homeland during the Russian invasion. 

"We lost a lot of relatives in Ukraine," Alla Pukhtetska, a Ukrainian refugee, said. "Some of them have [died] beforehand. And here, we found a new family who are proposing to us what we don't have in fact." 

Church in Northern Liberties hosts Ukrainian refugees for Thanksgiving 02:01

A new family consisting of other refugees who are coming together for strength and support. And on this holiday, the church is planning to keep the tradition all American. 

"A couple people called me and said, 'Bishop, can we bring some kielbasa?' I said, 'No, no please. Just cake,'" Bishop Luke Zhoba said. 

As for the future, the refugees remain hopeful. 

"Maybe the worst time is behind and the future is ahead and we have to be thankful with American society for such a possibility," Pukhtetska said. 

The refugees said they're hoping Russia and Ukraine reach a peace agreement and said they'd like to return to their homeland once it's safe. 

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