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'Don't forget about us' | Concert held in Charlotte with all ticket funds helping Ukrainian refugees

It was a packed night inside the Visulite Theatre as local musicians, some of whom are Ukrainian, performed in hopes of raising needed funds for war-torn refugees.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hundreds of people packed inside the Visulite Theatre in Charlotte's Elizabeth neighborhood on Thursday night with one mission: Help support refugees fleeing Ukraine. 

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The performance, called 'Charlotte for Ukraine,' was organized by Charlotte musician John Mark McMillan to help people displaced by the conflict.

The singer and songwriter said he was moved when he saw the image of Polish mothers leaving empty strollers at the bus station where Ukrainian mothers who were fleeing their war-torn country would land, knowing they would need a way to carry their children around.

Credit: AP
Strollers for refugees and their babies fleeing the conflict from neighboring Ukraine are left at the train station in Przemysl, Poland, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Francesco Malavolta)

"They couldn't end a war but they gave what they could to help hurting people," McMillan told the crowd. "A concert isn't the most original idea, but it's what I have to give." 

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"There's just a lot of joy in it -- knowing that I could help somebody, especially when you're feeling a little bit of the pain," he said when he spoke with WCNC Charlotte before the concert. 

The Christian music singer-songwriter performed after a number of artists, including Marina Alexandra, who is from Ukraine. 

"Just be there for us, don't forget about us," she told the crowd. 

WCNC Charlotte's Hunter Sáenz spoke with Alexandra before she took the stage. 

"This will be one of the most important concerts of my life," she said. "It means a lot that people are just willing to come and not only listen to the music but buy merchandise that will increase the fundraiser." 

She performed on stage with Oksana Kowcz, a singer from Ukraine who went on stage still worried about her parents and brother back in her home country.

"This is very, very hard but my family -- they don't want to come to the U.S.," she said. "They decided [to] stay at home." 

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There was comfort through their music and support felt through the fans who attended. 

"I have a heart for Ukraine," Stephanie Bramble, who attended the concert wearing shirt with 'Ukraine' written on it, said. "For the children there, for the people there, and I have a lot of friends there."

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Every dollar garnered by tickets sales went to Tearfund, a nonprofit organization that has boots-on-the-ground volunteers helping to provide needs to refugees. 

"Like blankets, water, tents - basic stuff," McMillan said. 

Friday, organizers told WCNC Charlotte's Hunter Sáenz they had raised around $13,000 with ticket sales, donations, and sold-out T-shirts. Additionally, McMillan's daughter made a giant cookie that sold for $500. 

Contact Hunter Sáenz at hsaenz@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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