IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) – Students in School District 91 in Idaho Falls had the opportunity to let refugee children fleeing Ukraine know that they have a friend in Idaho.
District 91 board member Paul Haacke traveled to the Polish-Ukrainian border in March to help solve the refugee crisis, when he saw a simple gesture that brought smiles to children’s faces.
“I met a man who was handing out artwork from his child’s elementary school to children queuing to cross the border,” Haacke said. “They were just standing in line with what they were wearing. And he was handing them a picture and telling them it was of a student in the States. And they were looking at that picture and they just started smiling and they wanted to just looking at it. I just thought it was amazing how we can communicate in so many different ways. And one of them is through artwork.
When Haacke returned, he went to see District 91 Superintendent Jim Shank to see if any managers would be interested in making art he could take over.
“And we received hundreds of artworks, and I’m very happy to take them all with me,” Haacke said. “I will distribute them at the border control line. I also plan to go and visit several elementary schools, I was able to network with different people in Ukraine. Some of them are principals and teachers, so I want visiting them again, as well as visiting their schools and donating some of these artworks to the students there.”
Among the students who created artwork were 6th graders at Theresa Bunker.
Crosby Christensen drew two shaking hands, colored with the American flag and the Ukrainian flag.
“When Russia invaded Ukraine, I thought it was just a joke, like ‘they didn’t really do that,'” Crosby said. “But we watched this thing called CNN Ten and I was like, ‘well, it’s happening.’ And so when we had the opportunity to do that, I thought said, “I really want to do this.”
Logan Jones drew the American and Ukrainian flags with the symbol of peace and a flower in the middle.
“It makes me feel like I’m helping people who have problems and making a difference. It might not be a huge amount, but I’m helping people. And that makes me happy,” Logan said.
Ellie Cheney incorporated Ukrainian into her photo.
“I just did a sky in some hills and then I did two flags, Ukrainian and American and some sunflowers at the bottom and Ukrainian ‘We are with you,'” Ellie said, also adding that the work makes her happy. .
“Just knowing that I can help someone in some way and make them happy, even if it’s just for a little while, makes me happy,” Ellie said.