Like most moms, Pamela Hines spools out her waking hours happily, and busily, entrenched in the campaign of simply being there for her kids.
Daycare and school.
Homework, mealtime and bedtime.
Naptime, too. Her youngest, Kobe, just stretched for his.
Kobe’s mom never strays too far from social media.
And when she logs on, Hines will invariably find messages from other moms slogging through a campaign of a wrenchingly, different kind.
Moms, who, last January, began watching with unease from their Ukrainian homeland, as Russian troops and tanks amassed at the border — an invasion at the ready, in plain sight.
Moms, who, last February, could only hold their babies close — as bullets snapped the air and bombs punched holes in hospitals, schools and shopping districts.
This was a campaign for survival, and many of those moms, sadly, didn’t make it.
Dads fell, too.
“Breaks my heart,” the Morgantown woman said. “That’s why we’re doing this.”
Hines is referring to Gold and Blue United, a humanitarian outreach she and her husband, Rudie Hines, founded last March, in those rushed days after the siege began.
“I couldn’t just sit and watch the news,” she said.
“You get to a point where you have to do something. You have try, anyway.”
Nine months later, with all the resigned nuance of a Slavic shrug, the fighting continues.
Which means causalities of war.
Including orphans. Especially orphans. Hines can tell you about 64 of them.
That’s how many she wants to help with a Christmas toy and clothing drive the organization is hosting for most of this month.
Through Nov. 23, you may drop off unwrapped toys or winter clothing (for children and Ukrainian soldiers both) at two locations: Sportsman’s Warehouse, 5200 Gateway Drive; or Tender Care Learning Center, 600 Pierpont Road.
Because she’s a mom, and because her kids are already talking about Christmas, Hines is hoping for toys, and lots of them, for “The Orphaned Children of Kharkiv” — that’s what she’s taken to calling the survivors who range in age from 2 to 17.
In the meantime, you can find more information on the drive by visiting www.goldandblueunited.com on the web or goldandblueunited on Facebook.
“These kids have lost so much,” she said. “They’ve had their innocence ripped away. I just want them to have a Christmas with Santa. Especially the little ones.”
That’s how many a group of adults on the ground there have been able to shelter since the fighting began. The rescuers are now part of Hines’ network.
“They started out with five kids,” she said. “Sadly, those numbers are just gonna keep growing.”
So too are the supporters and benefactors of Gold and Blue United, she said. Nine months ago, she and Rudy didn’t know the first thing about organizing a relief effort.
Neither knew what “Slava Ukraini” — “Glory to Ukraine” — meant.
Now, the home base in Morgantown has a network of international contacts who have helped place refugee families in the U.S., while directing some global outreach via the touchscreen of Hines’ smartphone.
“Someone can call West Virginia from Kyiv needing a shipment of food and we can get it there,” she said.
“And we feel really good about that.”