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Ukrainian refugees finding friendship celebrating first Thanksgiving ever

Ukrainian refugees gathered in Sacramento for a Friendsgiving
Ukrainian refugees gathered in Sacramento for a Friendsgiving 02:15

ORANGEVALE -- Ukrainian refugees are having their first Thanksgiving celebration, which they will probably never forget.

"It is our first Thanksgiving, and now we understand this celebration from another side," said Denys Hashpor.

Hashpor and his family had to leave their home and just about everything else behind. They shared a video showing it all destroyed in the Ukraine war. They're one of the thousands of refugees now rebuilding in California.

"Now we are here, and we are happy with the kind people around," said Hashpor.

A new support system now surrounds many at the Spring of Life Ukrainian Baptist Church in Orangevale.

"Most of them they had a long, difficult way to get here, a lot of stressful days for them, but today we're helping them to have this peace, this celebration," said Vlad Skots, CEO of the Ukrainian American House.

They're now finding a new sense of community and even family. It's a holiday season just beginning, with friendships now set to last a lifetime.

"We feel beautiful, like really good. Why? Because God made every human beings to serve God through other people," said SOL Senior Pastor Vadym Dashkevych.

"We are thankful for people kind and for our family, our friends, and safety," said Hashpor.

More than 20,000 Ukrainian refugees have crossed the border from Mexico to California this year, with many settling in the Sacramento area, known to have the biggest Ukrainian community in the state.

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