SEATTLE — It can be hard for people to see the world beyond their front yard. But that's exactly where Oksana Tyulyu is trying to change it.
Just outside her Queen Anne home, a humble self-serve display invites passers-by to take a bouquet of flowers and leave a donation to help the people she loves in her home country of Ukraine.
"This is definitely very special,” she said, creating a bouquet with sunflowers. "(They) remind me of my childhood in Ukraine, and Ukrainians who still live in Ukraine. It’s just a creative idea to support Ukraine."
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She created the stand in April to raise money for her hometown, which sits close to the front lines. She quickly realized it served a second purpose: an escape for her own mind from the constant bad news.
"I think I'm being actually more mindful when I'm making (bouquets,) my mind doesn't just go off somewhere," Tyulyu said. "So maybe that's kind of the healing part, that I can just be focused on something.”
She had no idea how her idea would be received, but on her first day the flowers sold out and it’s been steady ever since.
In six months, she's raised more than $6,000 from more than 200 different donors.
Lisa Kjaer is one of them.
"I just happened to be in the neighborhood and I saw flowers for Ukraine and I thought what could be better?" Kjaer said.
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Countless neighbors have dropped donations of money in Tyulyu’s mailbox — and some have included heartfelt cards and notes.
"Realizing there's still kindness and there's still good in this world kind of makes me understand that not everything is bad, not everything is evil,” Tyulyu said. "There's still good, there's still beauty, there's still happiness that can happen in this world."
Her favorite arrangement will be the last one she ever needs to make. But until the war ends, she plans to keep her flower stand going.
"I'm going to keep doing it. I feel people are still very receptive and want to help,” she said. "It's been a very, very beautiful project."
Donations go to registered 501c3 non-profit organization Grace Tea.
Tyulyu’s flower stand is located on Third Avenue West between West Blaine and West Garfield Street in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. Direct donations can also be made online via Venmo or Cash App.