Since East City Flower Shop kicked off its sunflower fundraiser in Ukraine on Thursday, owner Janet McLeod said she has sold nearly 500 flowers.

The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine and has been cultivated in its central and eastern steppes since the mid-18th century. Photo by Angela O’Grady.

When news broke about Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, McLeod knew she wanted to do something to help, but she wasn’t sure what.

As a member of the Rotary Club of Peterborough Kawartha and an avid fundraiser for several charities, when one of her flower suppliers, Bell Floral in Bowmanville, sent an email saying that all proceeds from sunflower orders would be donated to the Red Cross, McLeod knew what to do.

“I thought it was perfect,” McLeod said. “It went from there. I’m really touched by the response from people who have also been looking for a way to help.

McLeod notes that some people buying sunflowers are of Ukrainian descent and are heartbroken for their country, some watch the news and don’t know how to help, and some just know it’s the right thing to do.

“I had a gentleman come, he gave me some money and said ‘just pay it foreword, give the flowers to someone who might need them’. It’s so Peterborough.