From North County to Balboa Park, San Diegans show support for Ukraine
Greg Anglea and his volunteers at Interfaith Community Services are hard at work doing what they do best: help people in need in North County.
"We help more than 22,000 neighbors in North County every year with food, shelter, housing, wraparound support services," said Anglea, the CEO of Interfaith.
On Saturday, Interfaith will be using its network to help people thousands of miles away, in Ukraine. Volunteers will be collecting medical supplies from 10 a.m. to noon at San Pasqual Union School in Escondido.
"And, when these things happen, our response is always bringing people together to support one another — in this case with medical supplies," Anglea said.
He said people wanted to help because they can relate to the images of suffering. "When people have seen Ukrainians in need, they’ve often seen themselves and what could be possible in their own lives," he said. "We’ve seen that locally here with poverty and homelessness, and unfortunately now we’re seeing that abroad with war and violence."
The desire to help is music to the ears of a volunteer at the House of Ukraine: Oksana Mushchenko. She just arrived here with her family from Ukraine. She said she was overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers.
"It’s amazing: It’s really amazing — I haven’t enough words to say thank you to each American people," Mushchenko said.
The House of Ukraine has been collecting everything from protection for soldiers to medical supplies and money. People visit the cottage in Balboa Park to show their support. Some buy T-shirts, and some come to donate what they can.
On Friday, one man who did not want to be identified showed up to donate his his casino winnings.
"One hundred dollars, OK. This is for your family. Here’s another $50 dollars," the anonymous donor told Mushchenko.
"You have a big heart," Mushchenko, near tears, said to the generous stranger. She told him she would send most of it to her mother, who is still in Ukraine. "She’s staying in Kharkiv — that’s by Russia," she said as she pointed to a map.
And the rest, she said, will be used to help her children in a country they don’t know but already love.