SAN DIEGO — Holiday cheer and toys were handed out at the “House of Ukraine” in Balboa Park Saturday. The “House of Ukraine” also kicked off its “Holiday Stocking” campaign to send life-saving tools to people in Ukraine.

The event is inspired by the children of war who have fled to San Diego and those that are still in Ukraine.

“This is not about having fun on Christmas or having presents. It’s not about sending toys to Ukraine because this is beyond toys. This is about survival and it’s about making sure they actually live through this winter,” said Mira Rubin, the president of “House of Ukraine.”

It is an unconventional holiday filled with firsts for Ukrainians. The first Christmas in San Diego for dozens of refugees and the first during a war back home for thousands.

“A lot of people are not going to be able to have Christmas because they are displaced, they are in bomb shelters,” Rubin said.

The “House of Ukraine” is partnering with the humanitarian non-profit “Roots of Peace” and the Ukrainian consulate in San Francisco to help families in Ukraine fight out Russia’s unprovoked attacks in a brutally cold winter.

The organizations are asking everyone to help them gear-up Ukrainians back home with holiday stockings stuffed with life-saving tools, like thermal socks and underwear.

“Number one is hand warmers, then we have emergency blankets, 30% of Ukraine is without electricity and heat right now, these can actually save civilians,” Rubin explained while showing the items to FOX 5.

The dozens of Ukrainian refugee children in San Diego are being distracted, for the time, with presents.

On Saturday several kids were given gifts by the San Diego non-profit Amna Sanctuary.

“It felt like being Santa Claus,” said Dr. Rasha Roshdy, the director of Amna Sanctuary.  

Roshdy said they received a grant from “Rotary International” to be able to purchase 180 gifts for Ukrainian refugee kids in San Diego.

“It was a lot of fun and unexpected, there were girls who went directly to the soccer balls to the nerf guns to the monster truck, and there were boys who picked science discovery stuff, but everybody gets something they want,” Roshdy said.

Rubin said she does feel holiday joy, through the support that has been given to Ukraine.

“Just regular Americans bringing things to us and wishing luck and wishing for us to win this war as fast as possible, it just means so much to us,” Rubin said.

Click here to learn more or to donate to the House of Ukraine.

The “Holiday Stocking” campaign runs through January 6, 2023.