BERKELEY, Calif. - More than 6,000 miles from his hometown of Kyiv, Igor Tregub, a Berkeley resident, is taking small steps to help family, friends and aid workers in Ukraine.
"I am working person to person," said Tregub,
For weeks now, the Ukrainian native has been running a one-man fundraising effort, collecting donations here and making weekly trips to the bank to wire money directly to people in Ukraine who are desperately in need of supplies and funds.
"Every dollar and cent count. And every hour, every minute, every second counts as well," said Tregub.
He's barely sleeping, and the stress is exhausting as he waits every morning for text messages from his family as they emerge from bomb shelters.
"At five a.m. when I get up...my heart skips a beat when I send a message and I don't hear back for a while" said Tregub.
Video Wednesday showed the Red Cross and other large humanitarian relief groups mobilizing convoys of supplies, medicine, food, and water into Ukraine.
Tregub and many other Ukrainian expats, however, say those deliveries can be too slow to reach people when the devastation and suffering is immediate.
"This is the difference between life and death literally," said Tregub.
Family and friends in Ukraine are tell him what's needed on the ground, and he rallies donors in California to supply help and hope.
"I'm now working through some corporate donors to see if we can get some portable solar panels and inverters on the ground," said Tregub.
In the Bay Area, organizations are rallying and collecting funds for Ukrainian relief.
On Saturday at the Golden Gate Park bandshell, San Francisco's Recreation and Park Department is partnering with non-profit organizations SunsetPiano, Illuminate, and the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council for a fundraising concert for Ukraine relief efforts. Organizers will be handing out 500 sunflowers, Ukraine's national flower.
"The people in Ukraine are hurting. The people of Ukraine who live all around the and in the Bay Area are hurting too. As are Russians. I mean, this is a terrible moment of human conflict," said Ben Davis, Founder of Illuminate and one of the co-organizers of the event.
In San Francisco Wednesday, the skyline was once again lit up in the blue and gold colors of the Ukrainian flag, beacons of light and hope for Ukrainians overseas.