A video game marketer by day, ammo hunter for Ukrainian soldiers by night

In her day job, Ukrainian-born Viktoriia Dorogova is an SEO specialist on the marketing team feverishly publicizing the highly anticipated NFL Rivals mobile game for Mythical East, a U.S.-based video game and metaverse company with employees from Ukraine.

But in her spare time, typically late at night, Dorogova spends hours hunting for ammunition to supply her fellow Ukrainians battling Russian forces in her homeland.

What began as raising money to buy ammo for her best friend who is among the thousands of men fighting in the 15-month-old war against Russia has now become Dorogova's passion. She said one request led to another, then another.

Dorogova calls her voluntarism an act of “pride and for love of country.” She has also held numerous fundraisers for Ukrainian brigades, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from supporters.

"Our country has limited funds and you feel like you need to do your part to help," Dorogova told USA TODAY. "I feel this is a way of taking power into our own hands."

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Helping prepare for a spring counteroffensive

Dorogova is like many Ukrainians and their allies, including the U.S., who are seeking ways to hold off Russia during an expected spring counteroffensive.

Dorogova, who moved to Lisbon, Portugal, when the war began, not only raises money for ammo but also equipment and medicine through independent fundraisers via social media or in collaboration with Ukrainian-based Shylah, a volunteer charitable organization.

"I have friends who were fighting near Kharkiv and they were sent to the Donetsk region to go fight," Dorogova said. "They will go where needed, and I have to help them."

Dorogova also has helped raise money for car repairs for several brigades now in combat. The vehicles typically are damaged from driving on roads hit by persistent Russian bombings.

Needs on the front lines are great

Despite getting much-welcomed billions of dollars in aid and possibly high-tech F-16 fighter jets from the U.S., the need for weaponry in Ukraine is great – especially on the ground, Dorogova said.

Through the fundraising, Dorogova said she and other groups are able to buy bulletproof vests and helmets from border countries such as Poland. She has been able to purchase other war-related equipment from Romania and from some newer, smaller companies actually based in Ukraine.

"This is one of the biggest priorities in my life because I always want to do more,” Dorogova said. “If I was back in Ukraine, of course, I feel that I could do more, but here in Portugal, I can do my best to get funds for those still there."

Dorogova has the support of her employer, Mythical East, which acquired her original employer, Ukrainian gaming startup DMarket, in January. The merged company has adopted DMarket's mantra "Stand with Ukraine: No Russian Aggression."

The support "has been so overwhelming in a good way," said Juila Lazniuk, Mythical East's communications manager and a close colleague.

Dorogova says the process, from raising money to ensuring the ammo and equipment are delivered to soldiers, which can take a few weeks, can be complicated.

"The first few months of the war were hard because the level of supplies was so small because no one expected such a big invasion," Dorogova said.

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'I don't have any fears'

Dorogova said she is not scared for her safety as she helps her fellow countrymen fight for their freedom.

"No, actually I don’t have any fears," Dorogova said. "I’m afraid that if we don’t have enough equipment or if it gets delayed, that could be the problem.

"We have to do whatever we can to defend ourselves."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: In Ukraine war, a video game marketer lends aid scouring web for ammo