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Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School rallies around Ukrainian exchange student

Anastasia Didenko’s family is in Kyiv, Ukraine.
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Posted at 6:33 AM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 15:47:42-05

TUSCARAWAS COUNTY, Ohio — The students of Tuscarawas Central Catholic JSHS showed their support for Ukraine on Monday, donned in the blue and gold.

For the next nine days, the senior class will be leading a Novena each morning at school. They’re be praying for peace in Ukraine, but they’re also praying for one of their own: 17-year-old Anastasia Didenko. She’s an international exchange student from Kyiv, Ukraine.

“I can’t sleep here. I can’t because I’m constantly thinking about what’s going on there and what can happen in the next fifteen minutes,” she said. “Every ‘I love you,’ can feel like it is the last one and this is very hard.”

Her mother, father and little sister are ok, but she feels helpless.

“When you talk to your mom and hear air raids and it’s like ‘Ok. I love you but we have to run right now,” she said. “ I want to have a home to go back to, I don’t want to run. I don’t want to be anywhere else but there.”

As far as she knows, her friends back in Ukraine are okay, too.

“It is very hard and even like you’re getting texts from your friends and family and even just my classmates its not ‘hi,’ but ‘I’m alive,” said Didenko. “People my age, they’re going, they’re taking guns into their hands even though they’ve never done anything like that before but they go in and they protect my country.”

She said people in Ukraine are strong and proud.

“No one wants it [war] people don’t want to fight, people don’t. But we fight because we have to,” she said.

Now, speaking out against the invasion is what she feels like she has to do to help.

“I want to be there with my family,” she said.

Her friends, teachers, and family in Northeast Ohio are trying to help, too. The school raised nearly $1,500 Monday with proceeds going towards buying medical supplies and items needed for those in Ukraine.

Didenko’s host mom’s salon Lock 7 Hair Studio is also collecting items to help.

The salon is located at 10880 State Route 212 NE, 10880 OH-212 C, Bolivar, Ohio.

Didenko said she is grateful for the support.

“I have no words. I’m very happy. People are there for each other,” she said. “People are saying if I never need or anything or my family, people are ready to help. This is what we need right now. This is what people of my country need right now.”

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