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Fighting back: A Ukranian specialty market in Fife raises money and hope in war against Russia

Emish Market gives Ukranian-Americans a taste of home and a place to share their worries. #k5evening

FIFE, Wash. — Outside her father's market in Fife, 10-year-old Emily Gapon, dressed in a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt with a flower headdress, trades candy and popcorn for donations to help Ukrainians.

"Every single dollar helps a family in Ukraine," she said.

"You know it's a very hard time," her father Vladimir Gapon said. "A very hard time. Everybody feels sad."

Gapon co-owns Emish Market. He emigrated here from Ukraine more than twenty years ago. Every morning he gets news from friends and family.

"I'm from Kharkiv originally," he said. "And my city is destroyed completely."

The other day a friend sent him photos of the neighborhood he grew up in. On vacation a few years ago his family posed in front of city hall. Now, after Russian bombing, it's just a shell of a building.

"And my family's there," he said. "I mean it's hard to explain you know? It's like I have goosebumps right now because it's, you know, it's hard."

Credit: KING TV
Vladimir Gapon, owner of Emish Market, talks about Russia's war on Ukraine.

Many of Gapon's employees are from Ukraine. They send money back to families and they worry. Nataliya, who works in the bakery, did not want to reveal her last name.

She said at work she gets support from her co-workers. They talk together and they cry together. One of her co-workers in the bakery went back to Ukraine as soon as the bombing started so he could help refugees.

"We fight for freedom right now because Russia doesn't have any freedom right now," Gapon said. "But we have freedom and we don't want to be a part of Russia."

Outside the door, his daughter just got a $5 donation. People see the sign "Help Ukraine" and she greets everybody that walks in and out. 

"So people come by and then when people donate money, I'm just like, 'Just grab some free popcorn and candy'. Like why not? It's all free," she said.

Credit: KING TV
Emish Market in Fife offers a wide variety of items, including many from Ukraine.

The candy at Emish Market is Ukrainian. So is the traditional borscht served in the cafe. There are many items here that give Ukrainian customers a taste of home. Stefanie Bousquet showed us around.

"We have the strawberry cheesecake chocolate bars," she said. "This is my personal favorite. It's so rich. It's so good. So creamy.

"This is our Kvass," she said in the beverage aisle. "This is very very popular in Ukraine. It's a fermented type of bread. To me, it tastes like nonalcoholic beer."

"We got the cold smoked butterfly trout," she pointed to some bags of fish. "I really didn't think I'd be selling it with the head on it, but you know it's what the people want so we're gonna get it going."

All over the store, you'll see placards with QR codes that take you directly to websites from organizations helping to feed Ukrainians. One is the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council.

The overwhelming feeling at the market is that Russia will never defeat Ukraine.

"There's no chance," Gapon said. "Believe me. No chance."

His daughter has raised thousands of dollars for Ukraine. She's not giving up hope either.

"If more people from Ukraine stand up and fight for their country then I think they will definitely win," she said. 

KING 5's Evening celebrates the Northwest. Contact us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email.

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