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Chula Vista church becomes welcoming center for Ukrainians

Chula Vista church becomes welcoming center for Ukrainians
Posted at 4:58 PM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 16:46:07-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - A South Bay church has become the unofficial welcoming center for nearly all of the Ukrainians crossing the border.

At Calvary San Diego on Wednesday morning, ABC 10News found volunteers stuffing bags with toiletries and things like hand sanitizer, as they prepared for the next group of Ukrainian refugees.

“We’ve been praying, ‘Lord, send somebody to help the Ukrainians,’ and all of a sudden, we became that help,” said Assistant Pastor Aaron Szloboda.

Szloboda says it started a week ago, when a Sacramento church asked them for help with some incoming families. Calvary San Diego has done outreach work in Ukraine.

“It went from that to a group chat of 11,000 Ukrainian refugees that will be making their way through the border,” said Szloboda.

The church has set up a booth at the San Ysidro port of entry, welcoming Ukrainians with a translator and a ride to the church.

“They are shocked because they’re realizing, there’s food and water. We have clothing. We have hygiene aid,” said Szloboda.

The church is also providing refugees a room to catch a nap. Right now, the church is helping about 200 Ukrainian refugees every day.

“We're probably handling at this point, about 85% to 90% of those who are crossing through the San Ysidro or Otay borders,” said Szloboda.

Szloboda says nearly all of refugees have family or friends somewhere in the U.S., so the church is providing them with rides to the airport.

If they need a place to stay until the flight, the church has a list of people willing to host.

“We've heard many things. ‘We’re so thankful for hospitality and love.’ If that’s what we get to be, then we’re thankful,” said Szloboda.

The church is accepting food and water donations, along with toiletries and hygiene products, at the back gate of the church at 1771 E. Palomar Street.

Their most urgent needs are short-term hosts and drivers, especially between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. If you’re interested in volunteering, go online or email