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Clairemont neighbors unite to help Ukrainian refugees at the border

Clairemont neighbors unite to help Ukrainian refugees at the border
Posted at 3:48 PM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 20:10:13-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Some residents in a Clairemont neighborhood are banding together to help Ukrainian refugees waiting in line in Tijuana.

Last Thursday, Grace Ortega was heading back into San Diego after getting some dental work done in Mexico when she saw the lines.

“It broke my heart to see all of them out there,” said Ortega.

As Customs and Border Protection officials begin rapid processing of Ukrainian refugees at a pedestrian crossing, the lines on the Mexican side have grown to more than a thousand refugees each day. As of Wednesday, the wait to cross could take up to two days.

“Waiting in line must be hard for these people, who are coming with entire families. Tired, hungry and cold at night,” said Ortega.

So Ortega, an immigrant from Peru, decided to do something, posting on the site Nextdoor, asking for donations.

Within days, there was an overwhelming response. Last weekend, she brought some 10 large bags of donations to a South Bay church assisting the refugees.

Meanwhile, some 20 neighbors have signed up to collect more donations, making their own social media posts. One of those neighbors is Stephen Groce.

“Waiting in lines for days and hours, having someone extend a helping hand … That allows somebody a glimmer of hope, there is someone else in this world that cares about me. This during a time when they are likely feeling so alone,” said Groce.

"We have canned food. We also have blankets, clothing, toys … and books,” said Ortega.

This weekend, Ortega and several other volunteers will head to the lines in Tijuana to hand out the items.

“It’s showing neighbors together can accomplish something, and that's what we're going to do,” said Ortega.

“When we can collaborate and work together, this sends a message that every community can do it,” said Groce.

The group of neighbors is asking for donations and volunteers.