A rally to support the people of Ukraine drew crowds from across the Santa Clarita Valley to Bridgeport Park on March 19.
Local resident Eddy Perez took it upon himself to organize the event, fostering a sense of togetherness.
“This gave me a sense of hope. I can do something,” said Perez. “If I can just empower other people to do the same, then everybody will feel a sense of gratitude to serve others.”
The event urged attendees to make donations with stands that sold shirts, bracelets, and flags to raise money for the Children’s Medical Care Foundation in Ukraine.
Perez had a special reason for organizing this event.
For him, it hits home.
His family is still in Ukraine and that alone pushed him to take action.
“When I heard from my niece who said, ’Uncle, are you coming to get me?’ he said while choking up. “The impotence I felt of not being able to be there to grab her and bring her is beyond words.”
The same uneasy feeling is shared by Dr. Zoryana Ivanyuk, director and country managing director of the CMCF in Ukraine, who spoke via Zoom in a bunker in Lviv.
“Russia is trying to take from us our homes. Our parents, our spouses,” said Ivanyuk. “Russia has come to destroy Ukraine. I hope all the world clearly sees that.”
Bringing awareness to the plight of Ukrainians was a main focus of organizers.
“These are people who need your help,” Santa Clarita City Councilman Bill Miranda said. “These are our people. These are human beings. These are mostly women and children that have no way to help themselves and have no way to protect themselves against the terrorism that’s taking place right now in the war in Ukraine.”
The current state of affairs in the Eastern European country was exemplified by its former residents in attendance, now living in America.
Many described their memories of Ukraine’s cities and towns and contrasted those recollections with shell-shocked imagery broadcast across the internet and television.
Despite the situation, a sense of hopefulness prevailed across the park’s grass fields.
“I really, truly believe that we will win and all the world will be a safe place for all the children,” said Ivanyuk.
For Perez, the event gave him hope that the Ukrainian people will overcome the obstacles ahead.
“Darkness will never prevail. Never,” said Perez. “For those who have caused us harm, eventually they will go down. You will be victorious, I promise you that.”