Ridgefielders raise money for Ukrainian children selling sunflower pins, note cards

Photo of Alyssa Seidman

RIDGEFIELD — Nancy O’Connell said she would buy the sunflowers herself.

She placed them in the windows of her storefront in Copps Hill Commons to spread hope to passersby in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

O’Connell also started selling sunflower pins to patrons to raise money for Save the Children. The organization is providing humanitarian relief to Ukrainians amid the Russian invasion.

“The idea came to us when people were looking for anything yellow or blue to wear, and the sunflower story was just so inspiring — it sends a positive message,” said O’Connell, who owns nancy O Yarn and Gifts. “We decided to get the materials to make them and asked for a small donation (from) anyone who wanted (one).”

O’Connell received a range of donations, from loose change to a $250 check. The boutique was able to raise $2,000, which was matched by The Max Michael Rosenfield Foundation.

Jill Kerpchar-Rosenfield — who started the foundation in honor of her late son, Max — was inspired to lend a hand because of her family’s strong ties to eastern Europe. Her grandparents were born behind the Iron Curtain.

“My baba — my mother’s mother — she was all about charity,” Kerpchar-Rosenfield said. “She lived through the war as a child and never told us any of the details … but she wanted to make sure we were brought up paying it forward and giving back.”

A $4,000 donation was recently sent to Save the Children, but the store still has money coming in, O’Connell said. She expects to send out another check in the coming weeks.

“If our efforts can make a difference to help save one kid, one family, that’s my goal,” Kerpchar-Rosenfield said. “I’m fortunate to be able to accomplish that with someone in my community.”

O’Connell has about a dozen pins left of the 200 she started with, but said patrons can request materials from the store to produce more. Rosenfield and her daughter, Margo, were part of that effort.

“I think it’s given people an outlet to feel they’re doing something to stand with Ukraine and show their support,” O’Connell added. “Everybody feels as though they want to do something — in our small way it’s enabled them to contribute.”

Kerpchar-Rosenfield brought another idea to the table when Margo’s tutor, Sue Kalish, showed up to their home with a painting of a sunflower. Kalish was also Max’s first-grade teacher.

Kalish commissioned the painting for her own daughter, who just happens to like sunflowers. Kerpchar-Rosenfield admired it and thought, “This could be something more.”

With Kalish’s permission, Kerpchar-Rosenfield had the artwork replicated onto heavyweight note cards, which were printed at Squash’s on Main Street. A four-pack of the cards are available for $20 at nancy O; all proceeds benefit Save the Children.

O’Connell said Ridgefielders have embraced the fundraiser. She has been “overwhelmed” by all the support.

The image of the sunflower is a symbol of hope, O’Connell added. “I think everybody needs to grasp onto a little bit of hope,” she said.

To purchase pins or a note card, visit nancy O (103 Danbury Road) or email info@maxmichaelrosenfield.org.