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By Collin Breaux

Though separated from Ukraine by thousands of miles, an educational program in Southern California is sending goodwill items to kids from the Eastern European country—and partnering with South Orange County institutions in doing so.

Active Discovery, which promotes literacy and physical fitness in kids through reading and exercise activities, was recently asked by the nonprofit Kidsave—which has been evacuating Ukrainian civilians—to help provide activity kits to kids in the war-torn country.

“Our answer was a resounding and enthusiastic yes,” said Mary Ann Sprague, founder and executive director of Active Discovery. “For this to come together in a timely manner we worked with corporate partners and our flexible supply chain to assemble the 500 Activity Kits for the Ukrainian children Kidsave is serving.”

The kits being sent to kids in Ukraine—which is currently fending off an invasion from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces—include a soccer ball, musical instruments, inflatable beach ball, and deck of cards. The kit also has exercise instructions and an activity book translated into the children’s native language.

Students and representatives from R.H. Dana Elementary School, Boys & Girls Club of the South Coast Area, Linc Housing, and The Willows retirement community wrote cards expressing solidarity and hope for the Ukrainian people that were included in the kits. Active Discovery and R.H. Dana Elementary have enjoyed an ongoing partnership in which students have been receiving the kits for some time.

“We know that this is an extremely pivotal time in a child’s growth and development and we feel it is important to reach out and help them understand that there are people who want to help, even if it is just a handwritten note,” said Robert Steaffens, the teen/athletic director for the Boys & Girls Club in San Clemente.

The Boys & Girls Club was motivated to help since Active Discovery has been a “great partner” over the last few years, said Steaffens.

“We are all about helping those who help us and Active Discovery has been great to us,” he said. “From providing fun kits to helping us implement a new summer program, they have always wanted to be involved in keeping kids active and healthy.”

To sponsor a Ukrainian activity kit for $20, donations can be made at

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at                         

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