HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – Final preparations are underway for some of the members of Yoopers for Ukraine who are continuing to advocate for support of the people of Ukraine enduring the ongoing invasion from Russia.

Yoopers for Ukraine formed shortly after the invasion of Ukraine began early in 2022, and continues to support the country’s efforts through ongoing events, including a weekly walk across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge between Houghton and Hancock.

“At the beginning of the war, there were many, many news articles, many interviews, many pieces in the paper people came out to the events. And as the war has continued, some of the support around the United States has waned, but I would say that the support in the UP has actually increased,” said Nadija Packauskas, a co-founder of Yooper for Ukraine. “And I’m proud to say that. We have been able to keep Ukraine in the minds and hearts of people.”

On Saturday, the group will take part in the Parade of Nations, an annual celebration that takes place in Hancock and Houghton. The parade begins at 11 a.m., but if you are interested in being a part of the Ukraine section, the group will begin meeting near the Quincy Green at 10 a.m. in Hancock.

After Saturday’s parade, some of the group’s members will depart for Chicago to fly to Washington D.C. to take part in the Ukraine Action Summit. Among the members participating with Packauskas are her 91-year old father Vytautas Packauskas, her 8th grade son Robert, and Mila Yiutskevich, a Fulbright Scholar at Michigan Tech who was in Mariupol at the beginning of the conflict.

As part of the summit, the group will meet with 16 Michigan Senators and Representatives to advocate for continued support of Ukrainian forces. Additionally, a protest in support of Ukrainian children killed in the conflict will take place outside of the Russian Embassy in D.C.

“For us, it’s very valuable to be able to stand tall and proud to represent the Ukrainians right now fighting in Ukraine, you know, for their lives and for democracy across the United States,” Packauskas said. “So, an honor, we’ve met with many of these representatives via Zoom, but of course when you can advocate in person for a cause, and when you can shake their hands and say ‘thank you for continuing to support Ukraine’, it means all the difference. And again, as we’re in DC, we will be sending pictures back to Ukraine to show them that we’re on the Capitol in Washington DC advocating for them.”

Local 3 will continue coverage of the trip as it unfolds. If you would like to learn about supporting Yoopers for Ukraine or participating in future events, you can join the Yoopers for Ukraine Facebook group.