LAWRENCE (KSNT) – A Lawrence artist has organized a fundraiser through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help support children in Ukraine.

Jeanette De Vilbiss is a retired school psychologist and local artist who recognized the need to help those suffering from the consequences of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. When she spoke with 27 News, she said she attributes her long years in education to her current efforts to help children in Ukraine.

“My working career was always centered around children because I was a school psychologist,” De Vilbiss said. “I think its very, very important to provide for the needs of children so they can develop and function normally.”

De Vilbiss said she hopes her fundraiser will help the children meet some of their basic needs. With the help of other artists from Topeka, Lawrence and other parts of Northeast Kansas, along with partners in public education, De Vilbiss hopes her fundraiser will bring some much-needed relief to Ukrainian children.

The Sunflower Fundraiser has been planned for Saturday, May 14 and will run from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Cider Gallery located at 810 Pennsylvania St. in Lawrence. It will feature events for both adults and children. Admission is $5 for adults while those aged 18 or younger will be able to get in for free. The schedule for Saturday’s events can be seen below:

  • Live music and activities: 3-7 p.m.
  • Refreshments and snacks: all day
  • Dinner: 5-8:30 p.m.
  • Cash bar: 6-9 p.m.
  • Silent auction: 3-7 p.m.
  • Live auction: 8-9 p.m.

The auctions for the fundraiser will feature several pieces donated by local artists, goods and other services. The period from 3 to 7 p.m. will feature fun activities like planting sunflower seeds, bean bag tosses, face painting and more.

When asked why she decided to use the symbolism of a sunflower for the fundraiser, De Vilbiss said it is something both Kansas and Ukraine share as the flower holds special meaning for both places.

“The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine, and the state flower of Kansas, and I’d like to challenge people across the state to support Ukraine through their own sunflower fundraisers and actions,” De Vilbiss said.

If you have any questions about the Sunflower Fundraiser or want to donate, contact