Community holds donation drive to support Ukraine

A King County youth soccer club is rallying the community to help families from Ukraine fleeing to safety.

This weekend, they've been gathering supplies to ship overseas. Their efforts grew by the hour on Sunday.

Organizers said the event came together quickly—what started as a cleat exchange turned into a full-fledged effort to help the people of Ukraine.

"We live in an awesome community. People, they have big hearts around here," said Valor Soccer Club CEO Dean Aldridge.

It's a true team effort.

Aldridge said every person at the event wants to help someone else.

It started as a cleat exchange to make sure every child can play soccer, but then it became something even bigger.

"We take a lot of things for granted around here, you know, like just the basics of having a jacket or a warm blanket over you. These poor kids, [through] no fault of their own, and these mothers had no choice but to flee their country with just the clothing on their backs," Aldridge said.

Lisa Gillespie with Excel Real Estate Experts helped spark this collaboration at the Covington Community Park, gathering supplies for people who've lost nearly everything.

She said an employee at her office is from Ukraine.

"She, like I said, still has people right there, she's in contact with every day, that are calling her. She is getting videos of what's going on," Gillespie said.

She said they are working with churches to ship these supplies and donations overseas, knowing the devastation touches the hearts of many in western Washington.

"They were receiving all of them, they were unpacking them. So, we're seeing them get there, you know, and it's real-life stuff. I think right after they shot that video, they had to go down into the bomb shelter again," Gillespie said.

It's a moment Aldridge said is teaching his children what's most important.

They feel it, too.

"It just means a lot to me, helping out the community, and just a big deal, you know," Roderick Aldridge said.

There's a hope that everything this community does today can make someone's life better tomorrow.

"We're thinking of them, and we're trying to help the best we can," Gillespie said.

These groups plan to ship about 10,000 soccer balls over to the people of Ukraine. Their goal is to give kids some hope at a time when so much is unsure.

Organizers said they still need first aid kits, formula, diapers and other supplies. If you'd like to help, Excel Real Estate Experts will continue to take donations at their office in Maple Valley, at 21629 Renton-Maple Valley Rd.

They said they will accept them through the week from 8 a.m.–3 p.m.

From there, they said they will work with local churches to get them shipped overseas.

RELATED: Fox News Poll: Voters want the US to do more to help Ukraine against Russia

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