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San Diegan with family ties to Ukraine pleas for support

Mike Kollen might have married into the Ukrainian family, but he is asking his former hometown to support the war torn country from afar

SAN DIEGO — The war in Ukraine continues. Still heavily out manned and outgunned, the Ukrainian military and average citizens have taken the fight to Russian troops. Scoring victories in battle and preventing the invasion of their largest city and capital Kyiv. 

Russian officials indicated that they are shifting their attention to the eastern portion of Ukraine in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine directly in the sites of the Russian military.

Three years ago, San Diego native Mike Kollen’s married Olya Zakharova a Ukrainian native from the city Kharkiv. The couple ran a programming company in Ukraine, but fled with their two children to Spain before the outbreak of the war. 

Since Febuary, President Zelenskiy ordered that all Ukrainian Men ages 18-60 cannot leave the country. Olya’s sister Kate fled to Brussels, but their father Vladimir stayed- continuing to run the humanitarian station that was once a private school that he owned before the war.

"So the tanks are seven to ten kilometers away from where Vladimir is, that school has already been bombed twice and still standing," says Mike 

"I asked my dad we want him to leave because I'm really worried," says Olya  "He said I can't leave this people because he has this building and he has provided them bomb shelter and food."

Olya’s brother Roman and his business partner Denys have fled Kharkiv and have temporarly settled in the western city of  Chernivtsi.

"We are volunteers 24 hours, seven days, we do something and help our city, our country." says Roman 

Mike and Olya’s family protecting their country, but asking those in the west for their continued support. The volunteer organization founded by Ramon and Denys A-help, drives crucial, humanitarian supplies into Kharkiv, where Vladimir will distribute them from his school.

If you'd like to support their organization, you can donate to their PayPal here.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego man back home after helping Ukrainian refugees (March 2022).

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