“BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Helping people in crisis, that’s what one local organization is trying to do, along with a woman who is far away from home, trying to help her country.

“It feels like a long dream and I’m trying to wake up and I can’t.”

That’s Elena Schafer, or Miss Elena as her elementary students at Valley Montessori Academy call her. She’s a proud Ukrainian who says her heart is broken.

“It’s devastating to see my country hurt, and because I’m here and I can’t go over there, it makes it harder because all my family is there.”

Schafer is doing all she can right here from her home in Bakersfield, to help those who are hurting.

Valley Montessori Academy is organizing a donation drive to collect baby formula and medication for children to send to Ukraine.

“To help little babies and moms who are right now in some of the cities that have been bombed. They’re staying in the basements where they give birth and stay with the babies. I can’t even imagine the pain and the fear.”

The supplies collected through the donation drive will be taken, packed, and then put on a plane in Orange County where they’ll go to Poland, and then transported to residents in Ukraine.

“It does make a difference because this is the least we can do.”

If you’ve driven down Truxtun, you may have seen the county administrative building which is lit up in blue and yellow, to stand in solidarity with Ukraine.

“We are just so proud as a county to make a gesture to show our support during this challenging time.” Ally Soper with the county said it all started as a call from the community.

“A resident did reach out to us on our generic Kern County email and wondered if we were going to be doing anything to show our solidarity with Ukraine, and actually suggested lighting up the building.”

Schafer said she is grateful and overwhelmed with all the support she is receiving personally and also to her country and said her work will continue.

“We’ll be helping all the way, as much as needed. We’ll be organizing donation centers and we’ll be helping. Thank you so very much again.”

Valley Montessori Academy on Venture Wy is collecting donations till 3 p.m. Friday evening.

23ABC In-Depth

Meanwhile, you can also help by donating to several different national organizations as well. 23ABC took a deeper look at the website CharityNavigator.org and found a list of trusted organizations for you.

Charity Navigator compiled a list of more than 30 highly-rated nonprofits already engaged in relief and recovery efforts in Ukraine and the surrounding areas.

They are broken down by categories, ranging from medical services to long-term assistance and housing.

Some of the organizations include Heart to Heart International, Project Hope, and Action-Aid USA.

Other organizations:

Emergency housing

  • Islamic Relief USA
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • ShelterBox USA
  • Alight (formerly American Refugee Committee)
  • A Chance In Life
  • World Vision
  • GlobalGiving
  • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
  • World Help

Other (cash/cash vouchers, logistic supply, animals)

  • ShelterBox USA
  • Samaritan’s Purse
  • Save the Children
  • ActionAid USA
  • Islamic Relief USA
  • World Vision
  • Heart to Heart International
  • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
  • Americares
  • Humane Society International
  • Church World Service