Sunflower cookies for Arman Heritage Deli steps up to boost Springfield club's effort to bring family of Ukrainian exchange student to Vermont

Heritage Deli is selling sunflower cookies to benefit the family of a Ukrainian exchange student in Springfield. Photo by Cynthia Prairie

By Cynthia Prairie
©2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Michele Wilcox of Heritage Deli in Chester loves to bake and she also loves to find a cause she can support. Wilcox’s current cause combines the two. She’s baking hundreds of cookies to sell to help bring the family of a Ukraine exchange student to the United States.

Ukraine has been under siege for the past six weeks by Russian forces that invaded the country.

The student’s family — mother, father and 7-year-old sister — fled their hometown of Sakhnovshchyna, a small town in the Kharkiv Oblast in northeast Ukraine that borders Russia.

The student, 17-year-old Arman Kazarian, attends Springfield High School and was set to return to Ukraine this summer, and entered Wilcox’s orbit when employee Jessica Beebe told her about the situation. Beebe’s husband, Don, is Arman’s wrestling coach. 

Arman’s family is currently in Katowice, Poland, in less than ideal living conditions, says Rachel Hunter, of the Springfield Booster Club. The club has been fund-raising for Arman’s family and working with U.S. Rep. Peter Welch and Sen. Patrick Leahy to bring them all to Vermont, then get them settled with a home, jobs, furniture and clothing.

And Wilcox is more than happy to pitch in. She figures that thus far she has made 200 of the cream cheese sugar cookies, which are shaped and decorated like sunflowers, not only the national flower of Ukraine, but a flower that Wilcox calls “my flowers. I love sunflowers.”

When Wilcox heard the story of Arman and his family, “I felt I had to do something.” Like all causes Wilcox gets involved with, this one is close to her heart. She comes from Polish stock and when she learned that Poland was helping refugees — including Arman’s family, she pitched right in.

She’ll be baking the sunflower cookies for a few more weeks. You can pick them up at the shop, located at 642 Vt. Route 103 S. in Chester. The cookies are selling for $5 each, with all proceeds going to the family. But if you’d like, you can be like one Springfield alum who now lives in Chicago. She bought 5 cookies for $100 each.

If you want to donate directly through the Springfield Booster Club, you can make a check out to Springfield Area Booster Club at P.O. Box 666 in Springfield, VT 05156. Please note in the memo line “For Arman.” Or you can donate through the club’s Venmo account using your cellphone on the QR Code above.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts Life

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Tracy Atwood says:

    The world should have more people like you Michelle! The Heritage deli & Bakery is a beautiful place to enjoy one of these beautiful sunflower cookies! Keep up the wonderful work!

  2. Barbara Calhoun says:

    Great idea but think she should keep sunflowering until
    This war ends.

  3. Patty Mahaffey says:

    Great cause! Cookies are delicious!

  4. Linda Diak says:

    Thank you, Michele! You’re awesome!