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Flowers for Ukraine

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 12:43 PM CDT
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LEEDS, Ala. (WBRC) - As we continue to see the struggles around the world as people are forced to flee their homes, Chris Barentz knows what that is like, but she’s turning her feelings for the Ukrainian people into action. Chris is doing what she can, and her efforts are drawing lots of attention in the small community of Leeds.

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

“Both my parents were from Indonesia,” explained Chris. “During World War II, they were forced to the Dutch Colony. My dad came to Jackson, Mississippi, and that’s where my sister and I were born. Then he got transferred to Birmingham, worked at Precision Husky at Moody, and that’s how we ended up here. I’ve always loved art and it’s gone with me, and I just can’t put a brush down. I started painting on clothes and traveling different art shows, painting on canvases, wood, anything that’ll sit long enough for me to paint on it, I’ll paint on it.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

So, a short time ago, Chris packed up her antique Volkswagen, picked up her brush and started a special project. “I just happened to be scrolling on Facebook and someone had said this spring, plant sunflowers in your garden because that’s the national flower of Ukraine, just in honor of them, and I thought I can paint some sunflowers now. I work at a little boutique downtown called Merch once a week, and I asked the owner, ‘Do you mind if I paint some sunflowers on the window and put Pray for Ukraine?’ And she’s like, ‘That’s great! Absolutely.’ I did and then someone else saw it, someone else saw it, and it just blew up downtown Leeds.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

Still, Chris continues to get calls. “The little shop that prints for me, Smith Printing, they’ve called, too and so I’m going to head over there. I think about my parents and what they probably had to go through. They didn’t talk about it much, but I can only imagine having to completely leave everything behind, seeing everyone walk with their bags or a backpack, and that’s all they had.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

Chris does grow emotional talking about her efforts. “I think a lot of people understand. Their day may be going great, and when they see that sunflower I painted it might give them a moment to think, ‘Hey, let me stop and pray for them.’”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

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