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Students, families and community gather for candlelight vigil to support Ukraine

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Posted at 11:49 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 23:50:32-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Dozens of Old Dominion University students were joined by community members to hold a vigil for Ukraine.

One by one, people walked up to the podium and offered words of solidarity, prayed and even sang for the people in Ukraine, honoring those who have lost their lives during the tragic attack by Russia and to stand in solidarity with those still fighting for their freedom.

"I think it's hard for anybody to watch and not feel some sort of connection,” said Aden Beavers, "even if you don't know someone personally.”

Beavers and her family came out to support Ukraine and their friend Natalya, a student at ODU.

"You don't want to, like, stay at home and do nothing. You just want to be a little part of it, because we can't do much from far away,” said Natalya Malenko. “So, you know, it means a lot that our university, like, gave us the ability to be here tonight and have the support of people."

"It's inspiring. And it's very meaningful towards the Ukrainian community,” said another student, Yuliaa. “And everybody who cares about Ukraine, this is just something so thoughtful to do right now."

Ukrainians we spoke to say they felt encouraged by all the acts of solidarity at the school as their families back home face the attacks.

"I mean, part of my family was able to flee the country today, this morning. And it's just only women in my family - it's my mom, my grandma, my aunt and cousin,” said Malenko. “But, you know, my uncle, my dad, they had to stay behind. And we have a lot of family friends that had to stay and fight. So, you know, it's a bittersweet emotion that I have."

And as the sun set, candles were handed out, the sea of tiny lights illuminating the area, filling the space with hope.

"Unity, I mean, I think is the message, right? We're all creatures in the world,” said Brandon Beavers.

“We're all citizens of the world. And if this can happen to a sovereign nation over the other side of the world, who's to say it doesn't happen a little bit closer to home, you know? So, 'unity,' I think is the word."

A march is also set for this Sunday to support Ukrainians. You can check out how to attend that event here.

Related: Ukrainians living in Hampton Roads come together at 'Stand With Ukraine' rally