NEW YORK — A Ball State alumna now living in New York City is working to help those in her home country of Ukraine.
Iryna Khopta grew up on a farm in Lojeva, Ukraine, a rural community with about 2,500 residents. Khopta and her family moved to the United States when she was seven and went back to Ukraine every few years.
She tells WRTV it's been a roller coaster of emotions since Russia's invasion began.
"I was crying and hyperventilating. I couldn't work; anytime I would read the news I would start crying. Naturally the human mind kind of goes to the worst," Khopta said. "[I was] thinking of all my time there and my family and friends."
To help, Khopta started a grassroots fundraiser that's raised almost $10,000 so far. That money has gone towards a used pickup truck, medical supplies and gear for Ukrainian troops. She says many men from her hometown are fighting right now as others work to collect supplies and food for the troops.
"It's been such a great reinforcing feeling of support and love and that people really do want to promote peace and want to see Ukraine sovereign and free," Khopta said.
More boots, rain jackets and items such as Neosporin are currently being ordered.
"As the war progresses unfortunately we just see how many supplies we need," Khopta said. "We're asking and fundraising and doing the best we can to get other people to contribute whatever they can and raise awareness."
Khopta is working with her connections to nonprofits to send the supplies to Poland and then cars come to the border to get the supplies for people in Ukraine. No planes are currently going into Ukraine.
Some of her relatives are fighting or helping the country in other ways.
"That's kind of been my motto for this entire time is focus on what I can do in my sphere of influence and then focus on moving forward in action," Khopta said. "It's just incredible to see the resiliency of the human spirit and seeing a common goal - everyone is really doing whatever they can."
If you'd like to donate, Khopta is accepting money through Venmo @IrynaKhopta with the note "Supplies for Ukraine." The last four digits of her number are 7772.