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Ukrainian woman in Tucson makes and sells felt art to send money back home

Ukrainian woman in Tucson makes and sells felt art to send money back home
Posted at 5:48 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 14:47:41-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A Ukrainian couple living in Tucson is selling art to send the funds to Ukraine. The local United Nations Association Center gave them a platform to do it.

Yaroslava Sobeleva passes the time by making felt art. But as she pokes the wool fabric into each piece, her mind is somewhere else.

“We’re all waiting for what’s going to happen next,” said Aleksey and Yaroslava Sobelev, a Ukrainian couple in Tucson.

Yaroslava and her husband Aleksey were both born and raised in Ukraine. Aleksey moved to Tucson in 1999 and Yaroslava joined him around 10 years later. She doesn't speak english very well, so her husband speaks for them both.

“Of course we’re thinking about that all of the time,” Aleksey Sobelev said.

Yaroslava has been selling felt art online for three years now. Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, she’s sent all the money from her art to her family and friends back home.

“They just want to be in their houses," Aleksey Sobelev said. "They spent too many years living there and they don’t want to go anywhere to be safe.”

The couple’s neighbor, Joanne Curtis, wanted to help. Curtis invited Yaroslava to sell her art at the united nations association center where Curtis volunteers.

“She gifted me an Easter egg and I was so thrilled with it that I brought it to the store and they agreed to come today,” Joanne Curtis, a volunteer at UNA Center.

The Center sells traditional folk art from around the world and sends any profits to UNICEF. It will soon send a donation of $200,000 for Ukrainian relief.

“Our mandate is education and helping people understand what is happening in the world and what we can do about it,” Curtis said.

If you'd like to donate to UNICEF in Ukraine, stop by the UNA Center at 6242 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85712, or you can call the store at 520-881-7060.