SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Local students studying abroad got to hear firsthand, the tragedies of the war in Ukraine.

Western New England University students at the Sant’Anna Institute in Sorrento, Italy were visited, by Olena Stasuik. Her husband Max is a Ukrainian artist, he does the illustrations for children’s books sold by the Spirit of Springfield. Proceeds from the book “Little Frog and the Bright Lights” are being used to support his family who had to flee Ukraine because of the war.

Olena, their 2 children, and her aunt are all living with a friend in Italy. Max, was forced to stay behind in Ukraine.

When Olena learned of the local western Massachusetts group coming to Italy she wanted to meet with the students, their Professor Brenda Garton Sjoberg, and John Sjoberg, who is chair of the Spirit of Springfield, to thank them for all the support they’ve received.

“In no time at all, we sold over 1,000 of these books and sent all the money to the Stasiuk family to help in a very small way. For us, it was not about the money. It was about serving, showing our love, and our support for you. We wish we could do more,” John Sjoberg told the family.

100 percent of the proceeds from “Little Frog and the Bright Lights” go to the Stasiuk family.