In the early morning hours of March 1, a truck filled with more than $60,000 worth of humanitarian aid collected by Knights in Poland made its way to Lviv in western Ukraine. As part of an Orderwide effort to provide relief to those displaced by the Russian invasion, Polish Knights have also established “mercy huts” at the border to provide food, water, and warmth for refugees, as well as a housing network for those arriving to Poland.
The supplies delivered to Ukraine — including medicine, generators, sleeping bags, warm clothing and other necessities — were collected by K of C councils throughout Poland and brought to regional sites in Radom, Kraków and Tomaszów Lubelski. The items were then shipped and loaded onto a single 18-wheeler — dubbed the “Solidarity Shuttle” — in Tomaszów Lubelski and departed for Lviv Feb. 28. Local Knights in Ukraine received the delivery and coordinated with an “Anti-Crisis Committee,” established by the Archdiocese of Lviv, to distribute the much-needed supplies. Leaders of the Knights of Columbus in Ukraine, including the state deputy, state secretary and a district deputy, are currently serving on the committee.
The Polish Knights’ initiative coincides with the Supreme Council’s commitment to provide immediate aid in support of Ukrainian refugees and displaced families. In a message to Knights around the world Feb. 25, the day following the Russian invasion, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly encouraged the Order’s more than 2 million members to respond with continued prayers and material support.
“The situation in Ukraine is dire and worsening,” the supreme knight wrote. “The people of Ukraine and our brother Knights in that nation need our help.”
To facilitate relief efforts, the Knights of Columbus has been working with both the Latin and Greek Catholic Churches in Ukraine and with dioceses and councils in Poland. It has also partnered with Caritas Poland — a wing of the international Catholic charitable organization working on behalf of the Polish bishops’ conference.
In the days since the initial delivery of the Solidarity Shuttle, Polish Knights have assembled supplies for additional truckloads, while a number of smaller shipments have been delivered to Lviv from Tomaszów Lubelski. Through this initiative, Knights in Poland hope to be a bridge between those who want to help and those who need it most, according to Poland State Deputy Kryzysztof Zuba.
“One of the pillars of our programs is supporting life, supporting the community, supporting families,” Zuba said. “These are the actions that we are taking to protect life that is, at this moment, in immediate danger right there in Ukraine, as well as families, both those who are in Ukraine and those who go to Poland.”
Knights throughout Poland, which counts nearly 7,000 members in 160 councils, have also been coordinating prayer services for peace in Ukraine. Following a Day of Prayer for Peace on Jan. 26, called for by Pope Francis, Ukraine State Deputy Yuriy Maletskiy stated, “During this crisis, we are especially grateful for the unconditional support of our brothers in Poland.”
Prior to the invasion, Knights in Poland anticipated a request from the Polish Bishops’ Conference creating a database of housing sites and parish centers for the impending influx of refugees. Many Polish Knights have personally volunteered to host Ukrainian families.
Additionally, the Knights have set up a series of tents — or “mercy huts” — at the Poland-Ukraine border in Hrebenne, Poland, to welcome refugees escaping the conflict — thereby continuing the spirit of the Order’s “Everybody Welcome, Everything Free” campaign in Europe during World War I. Meanwhile, members of St. John Paul II Council 15299 in Suchedniów, Poland, shipped a field kitchen and power generator to aid Ukrainians who have been displaced.
“The attack on Ukraine did cause evil, but at the same time, in many hearts, in many actions of those who reacted, great good was revealed,” Zuba said. “I have great hope that this good will bear fruit and that the war will end as soon as possible.”
Supporting the Ukraine Solidarity Fund will provide temporary shelter, food, medical supplies, clothing, communications and religious supplies. These items will all be immediately distributed, and 100% of your gift will go directly to these displaced people.
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