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San Diegans donate to help Ukraine war efforts

"I prayed over this hat. Whoever gets it, I pray that they’ll be safe," said Derek Morris as he handed a military grade helmet and goggles to a volunteer at the House of Ukraine in Balboa Park Thursday.

Derek Morris, a San Diegan, said he was moved to donate by the images of ordinary people in Ukraine defending their country. "People standing in the street in front of vehicles with no protection," he said.

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The House of Ukraine is one of the International Cottages at Balboa Park. An effort is underway there to help those staying behind in the country being shelled and bombed by Russia around the clock.

"Whole country is helping, nobody is just sitting," said Alla Boyko, a Ukrainian American and volunteer at the House of Ukraine.

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House of Ukraine Donations
Kitty Alvarado
Walter Scranton and Alla Boyko pose with a bullet proof vest Scranton just donated to help protect civilians in Ukraine during a collection drive at the House of Ukraine in Balboa Park.

Boyko said they especially need gently used military grade body armor, boots and helmets.


"We have a lot of people who want to fight in Ukraine, man, but they don’t have any protection, they're just on the streets of Kyiv, and they can be killed anytime," she said.

Among them, her own cousin.

"Because of bombing, kids are scared, (my cousin's) husband is military as well … I’m praying everyday and I’m scared because they don’t have any bomb shelter," she said.

Walter Scranton, a Vietnam vet, says he knows how ugly war can be and was compelled to come bring in body armor he had in his stash.

"I hope it helps somebody, it’s a horrible situation, it really is ... they'll see it through," he told Boyko, who asked him for a hug.

She said these donations will help ordinary people turned heroes live to fight another day, like Boyko’s cousin who wanted people here to know just how much that means to them.

"They can be attacked anytime and she was very grateful, very thankful for you guys," she tells a woman who stopped by to donate.

Donations given from the heart accepted with love for Ukraine.

For more information or to donate, visit the House of Ukraine's website.