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PHILADELPHIA (TSTIME) — Ukrainian refugees in Philadelphia sit down for their first-ever Thanksgiving. While enjoying a feast with other refugees, they wish peace back to their homeland.

In Ukraine, the closest holiday to Thanksgiving is Independence Day, where they celebrate with borscht and pierogies.

For Thanksgiving, it’s all American food, including the traditional favorites of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie.

It’s a special Thanksgiving for St. Nicholas Patriarchal Orthodox Cathedral. The church receives 14 Ukrainian refugees for dinner.

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“I’m excited because it’s my first Thanksgiving in the US, in Philly,” said Oleksii Pasichniak, a Ukrainian refugee.

The dinner started with a song, a prayer, then food and a story.

Since March, the church has been hosting the 14 refugees in the presbytery after they fled their homeland during the Russian invasion.

“We have lost many relatives in Ukraine,” said Alla Pukhtetska, a Ukrainian refugee. “Some have [died] prior to. And here we have found a new family that represents us what we don’t actually have.”

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Church in Northern Liberties receives Ukrainian refugees for Thanksgiving

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A new family made up of other refugees who come together for strength and support. And on this holiday, the church plans to keep the tradition all-American.

“Some people called me and said, ‘Bishop, can we bring some kielbasa?’ I said, “No, no please. Just cake,” said Bishop Luke Zhoba.

As for the future, the refugees remain hopeful.

“Maybe the worst of times are behind us and the future is ahead of us and we should be thankful to American society for this opportunity,” Pukhtetska said.

The refugees said they hope Russia and Ukraine reach a peace deal and are eager to return to their homeland as soon as it is safe.

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