Vermont man sews Ukrainian flags to share

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MONTPELIER, Vermont (WCAX) — Mark Barczak, 29, of Montpellier, spends a lot of time sewing, ironing and screen printing.

He has been working there for about two and a half weeks, starting shortly after hearing about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I was so upset that I wanted to try to do something,” he said. “It’s like… what do we do as individuals?” How can we help?”

His parts are simple – two colors, sometimes with white paint. A handmade version of the Ukrainian flag that started just for his apartment window.

Barczak decided he would make a few for businesses in downtown Montpellier, but soon enough he was approached by people who wanted some too.

“It really felt like I had to do it,” he said. “It felt like something I had to do that really came out of a sense of history.”

A story that touched his own family once. His Polish grandparents endured concentration camps just over a century ago.

But without combat training, Barczak decided to put his artistic experience to good use. Buying all the supplies he could afford, he started making flags that people could take away for free.

He advertised his efforts on a handful of websites, created his own for the project he named “Ukraine Flags for Vermonters” and got to work.

“Sometimes it’s a lot, but honestly I’m sitting here and listening to the news about what’s going on there and they don’t get any respite. So I don’t get any respite,” said Barczak.

Working six to eight hours a day sewing in addition to his other responsibilities, Barczak says he has made 167 flags so far, costing around $2.50 per flag.

“So I just put out there, you know, if anybody wants to donate, I’ll still make them and give them to whoever wants them,” he said.

Fortunately, the supplies are now fully covered by community donations, including the cost of shipping them to non-local people in Montpellier.

Barczak says that’s something he can only imagine happening in Vermont.

“The people of Vermont have been so generous in moving this project forward,” he said. “It’s gone beyond a me thing, it’s now everyone and I’m just the sewing person.”

Barczak always accepts donations for his flags, but he wants to be clear: he says donations to his project should not replace direct contributions to help people still in Ukraine. He also says that the donations for his project go 100% to supplies and he takes nothing for his time.

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