HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) — The official flower of a central Ohio city mimics that of Ukraine, so its leaders decided to grow a sunflower patch in solidarity with the war-torn European country.
Just 10 days remain for central Ohio residents to visit the site of the future Hilliard Community Center, where yellow sunflowers are strewn across four-and-a-half acres of a grassy field — all with the intention of raising funds for those who have been displaced during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to city spokesperson Anna Subler.
“The flowers were supposed to bloom in 60 to 80 days, and it was more like 110, so timing was difficult, “ Subler said.
After Russia launched a war against Ukraine in February, Hilliard city leaders watched the plight of refugees and planted an idea.
The official flower of both Hilliard and Ukraine, Subler said, is a sunflower, so visitors who have cut their own flowers since the field was planted in May are encouraged to donate to US Together, a Columbus-based non-profit that provides services to refugees and immigrants in Ohio, according to its website.
“I brought some scissors — I’m going to cut some down,” Erin O’Reilly-Mazon said as she held her 3-month-old son Miles. “I love the idea it’s raising money for refugees.”
Sunflower season comes and goes quickly, Subler said. As soon as they sprout, seemingly that’s how quickly they are gone. Although the sunflower patch may be a one-and-done event done for the city of Hilliard, the impact may be more lasting for those passing through the field.
“I think that representing that with something as beautiful as a sunflower that shows up for such a short time of year, but representing that beauty and how we should be treating people,” O’Reilly-Mazon said.
Joe and Christine Finocchi, Columbus residents who stopped by the sunflower field to support the cause, said the yellow-dotted patch reminded them to not take their lives for granted.
“You’re not trying to take everything for yourself, you’re leaving things for others, it’s so simple, yes so simple and low-key.”
A selfie frame stands in the field for visitors to take a photo, but the fleeting field is more about feeling gratitude for moments of self-peace. Joe Finocchi said the sunflower patch resembles a little peace in the midst of war.
“At least for us, he said. “We’ll go to bed not being hungry, not needing water, not being bombed.”
Those who wish to donate to US Together can do so here.