Ledyard — Noreen Saccone has been rolling, filling and making pierogies for as long as she can remember. Growing up in a Polish family, she learned early on how to make the popular Eastern European dumplings from her mother, and the two would routinely make the dish for family dinners.
Now, with the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, Saccone has been using that skill to raise money for Ukrainian refugees.
Saccone and five other volunteers made and sold over 500 pierogies for a pierogi and bake sale held at the Gales Ferry Fire Department on May 20, raising about $2,850 in total for Ukraine. The money was donated to the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid group that is assisting Ukrainian refugees.
“We were just sitting there talking about how we just felt helpless. How can (we) help these people?” Saccone said. “My friends wanted to know and learn how to make pierogies, so that was the idea. Come to my house, you’ll learn how to make them, we’ll make them and then we’ll sell them for Ukraine.”
The sale, which was supposed to last from 3 to 7 pm that day, was considered a success by Saccone after the homemade pierogies sold out in only two and a half hours.
The group also sold baked goods provided by families from Ledyard Middle School, where Saccone works as a paraprofessional and requested donations of baked items to sell.
The sale, Saccone said, provided the perfect opportunity to raise money for an important cause while also involving members of the Ledyard community.
“It started out as something small,” she said, “and it turned out to be something pretty big.”
Shortly after the sale, Saccone helped organize a coin war at Ledyard Middle School to raise additional funds for Ukrainian refugees. The students raised $400 from the competition, which Saccone donated to the IRC along with the funds from her sale.
While these initiatives were held mostly to raise money, she said the awareness the fundraisers brought to the town’s youth was just as important.
“Some of the kids were definitely interested in helping out in some way and some even made signs,” Saccone said. “They did what they could; they emptied their change.”
Saccone said she doesn’t have any plans to organize another sale. However, she did not completely rule out the possibility of doing a similar fundraiser in the future if the situation worsens in Ukraine.
Some people told her about how in the past, there were a lot of similar fundraiser sales, Saccone said. “There were spaghetti dinners and different things coming out of communities and we feel like they’ve kind of faded away,” she said. “Right now, it’s one time. But, if in the future something comes up, you never know.”