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Social Media Helps Local Man In Poland Connect Sacramento With Relief Efforts For Ukrainian Refugees

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) -- The power of social media is helping connect Sacramento with relief efforts to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

One local man explained how the community here is helping him make an impact thousands of miles away.

After weeks of looking at the devastation in Ukraine, Margarita Angeles Klein found a way to help after spotting a message online.

"Very short and sweet and 'I'm going to Poland. If you like to give donations, please let me know,'" she said.

The neighborhood site Nextdoor connected her with William Houser -- better known as Liam, a former Air Force and current California Air National Guard paramedic on a solo mission to help refugees. Margarita is one of 20 people to donate clothes and supplies for the trip.

"I just was so excited because I was trying to figure out how I could help in any way and I'm always collecting things," she said. "I also went through my closet and things I had been wearing and said, 'You know what, I have plenty. These people have nothing."

William posted the request days before leaving.

"Within 24 hours, we had become just a little team," he said.

He traveled with just a few bags before flying from Sacramento to Warsaw -- which is Poland's capital -- and then traveling to Medyka on the Poland-Ukrainian border.

"I was glued to the TV. I was just thinking, 'Why was I not over there?' " William said. "As a paramedic, I have a set of skills that you can't really send online, so I thought, 'Why not just go there?' "

William is connecting with other volunteers, including funding transportation for Ukrainians with monetary donations he's received. Most recently, he partnered with the global disaster relief team at the humanitarian aid center.

"Most people have cuts, bruises, scrapes, dehydration, [and] the elderly [may be] having trouble breathing," he said.

It's not just his medical skills being used. Sometimes he's just a friendly face.

"Some of them come in there still so shocked and they just need a quiet place to cry," William said.

It's an emotional community effort to come together and make a change.

"No matter how small our impact may seem, it made a difference for a few people, and those actions of our community matter," William said. "Community members have also given hundreds of dollars in donations."

That money is being used for transportation for Ukrainians and other local groups William meets while he is there. He is expected to fly back to Sacramento on April 10.

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