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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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‘Sunflowers for Ukraine’

Friends of Ukraine, Active Minds held an event inviting the public to plant sunflower seeds around campus in support of Earth Day and Ukraine

Friends of Ukraine and Active Minds planted flowers across campus to express support for the Ukrainian people.
Friends of Ukraine and Active Minds planted flowers across campus to express support for the Ukrainian people.

Jack O’Leary is sick of UB’s unattractive campus and worries about its impact on students’ mental health. Khrystyna Adam doesn’t want the efforts being made to help Ukraine to die out. 

So they worked together. 

In a collaborative effort, Active Minds, a student organization dedicated to promoting mental health and education, collaborated with UB Friends of Ukraine in an effort to spread awareness of Ukraine’s struggles. The two organizations  decorated campus by inviting the community to plant flower seeds throughout UB’s grounds this past Friday,  which was Earth Day. 

Students and other community members met outside of Clemens Hall to pick up planting equipment and choose the type of seeds they’d like the plant.

While sunflowers were the focus of the event, participants could choose to plant marigolds or daisies as well.

“We just want to keep bringing awareness to everything going on in Ukraine,” Adam, a junior biological sciences major and treasurer of UB Friends of Ukraine, said. ”Sunflowers are the national flower, so it is the number one flower that people associate with Ukraine and it’s important to plant them during these hard times so that the community doesn’t forget what’s happening.” 

Students are not the only ones thinking about Ukraine. Lesia Vanhouten, a Ukrainian Buffalonian who attended “Sunflowers for Ukraine,” told The Spectrum that she heard about the event through Facebook and felt inspired to help the Ukrainian community. 

“Both of my parents are from Ukraine,” Vanhouten said. “Being so far away, living in Buffalo, limits me on what I can do to assist people in Ukraine. Luckily, I learned about this event today and was able to come help out. Plus, it’s beautiful weather. They couldn’t have picked a better day to be outside.”

According to Adam, the event planning came easily. She told The Spectrum that Active Minds took  the initiative by purchasing flower seeds, contacting University Facilities  regarding equipment and by helping Friends of Ukraine advertise the event.

“We’re so excited to see the flowers grow and bring the campus to life,” Adam said. “And I hope that when students see them, they’re reminded of the people in Ukraine and want to help.”

According to Muna Alsadam, a sophomore nursing major and the vice president for Active Minds, the war in Ukraine wasn’t the only cause “Sunflowers for Ukraine” supported. Another goal of the initiative was to cheer students up by planting flowers in vacant areas on campus. Students said beautiful beams of yellow and white flowers brought the dark brick of UB’s North Campus to life.

“A lot of the campus is just dead land, so we just want to add little pieces of happiness,” Alsadam said. 

O’Leary, a senior neuroscience major and student advisor for Active Minds, shares the same sentiment.

“This campus can already be so depressing, and that’s concerning,” O’Leary said. “I’m hoping today we are able to make the campus a little prettier. Plus, it’ll help the environment and bring awareness to what’s happening in Ukraine.”

Kayla Estrada is an assistant news/features editor and can be reached at

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Kayla Estrada is the opinion editor at The Spectrum. She is an English major who enjoys rainy weather, “Bob’s Burgers” and asking people who they voted for. When she’s not writing, she can be found hunting for odd-looking knick-knacks at the nearest thrift store.  



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