LOCAL NEWS

Group from Utah, Idaho grows effort in Poland to help Ukrainian refugees

Mar 20, 2022, 10:50 PM | Updated: Jun 14, 2022, 11:17 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A volunteer group from Utah and Idaho that’s helping Ukrainian refugees in Poland said they’re bracing for a huge surge in numbers this week.

They’re receiving even more on-the-ground help from the Beehive State as they prepare for what’s coming.

In the midnight hour when most were sleeping, a van cast headlights on a lonely, quiet road in the Polish countryside.

In the back of that van, three refugees from Ukraine — a brother, sister and sister’s child — dozed off, relishing the peace and rest. They finally crossed the border from Ukraine into Medyka, Poland, late Sunday evening.

With bus service winding down for the night, they found a private van offering to take them to Krakow two and a half hours away.

Brett Hilton sat at the wheel, with his wife Bonnie sitting behind the front passenger seat. The couple had just flown in from South Jordan, Utah, a couple days prior.

“They kind of felt inspired to come help, and we invited them to join our team. And they offered to be able to take on the lead on this,” explained Rob Sturgill, who sat in the front passenger seat next to Brett.

Sturgill, who is from Idaho, has been helping transport refugees from Medyka to Krakow and other areas of Poland for the past week.

He, along with his brother from Lehi, are part of Type of Wood Charities.  

The group arrived in Poland and rented vans to drive refugees. They are also purchasing suitcases so that people can hold their belongings.

Sturgill said many refugees arrive with their belongings in plastic grocery bags.

While the last few days saw a lull, he explained, they expect a huge week ahead in Medyka.

“There’s kind of a feeling out there right now for most folks that’s there’s going to be a large flood coming in here, probably in the next week,” he said.

Part of that, Sturgill indicated, has to do with what’s happening in the largest Ukrainian city near Medyka.

“We are getting quite a few refugees into Lviv, which is just a couple hours from the border, and there’s been a handful of bombings down there in the past week,” Sturgill said. “So there’s concerns that that area is even getting more dangerous.”

Sturgill said they’ve made connections in Medyka with volunteers who find them families to transport. Sometimes they drive them to small villages to stay with host families. Other times, they’ll drive them to the train station in Krakow as the families take the next step in their journey.

But many women and children fleeing the country don’t have an end point in mind, Sturgill explained. They simply needed to get out of Ukraine.

Thanks to donations from his co-workers, Sturgill is able to purchase hotel rooms for those families to stay in for a night or two, so they can take a shower, sleep, and eat a warm breakfast while preparing for what’s next.

Originally Sturgill was planning to return home Sunday.

Instead, Monday morning, as it neared 1 a.m., he was in the middle of yet another two-and-a-half hour trek from Medyka to Krakow.

“What’s going on here is a bit overwhelming,” Sturgill expressed. “And I think we realized that we needed to spend a little bit more time training the next group that’s coming in to be prepared.”

He now has help from Brett and Bonnie Hilton, with more volunteers arriving this week. They are ready to welcome in that next wave.

“We’ve introduced them to our contacts in each location, and have gone through with them basically all our procedures and processes that we’ve put into place,” Sturgill said. “To make sure that if the flood gates do open, that we are prepared and able to keep track of every single refugee that is in our hands.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Iron County Search & Rescue responded to a injured mountain biker at Boulder Dash Trail. (Credit: I...
Michael Houck

Search & Rescue crews help an injured biker near Cedar City

Iron County Search & Rescue helped a mountain biker who needed help after getting hurt on a trail Saturday morning near Cedar City.
18 hours ago
A minor apartment fire on 761 So. 300 E....
Michael Houck

SLC Fire crews take down a minor apartment fire

Salt Lake City Fire crews responded to a minor apartment fire Sunday afternoon.
18 hours ago
Utah's state Route 24 on June 23, 2022. (NPS)...
Larry D. Curtis

Flood watch over popular Utah recreation areas Sunday

A flood watch is in effect over central southern Utah, through Sunday night, as thunderstorms create potentially dangerous conditions.
18 hours ago
Hundreds of protesters marched in Provo for abortion rights....
Michael Locklear

Hundreds protest in Provo to demand abortion rights

A crowd of roughly 300 people gathered in Provo Saturday night to demand abortion rights.
2 days ago
A structure fire nearby the Rio Tinto Stadium. (Credit: Scott Jones)...
Michael Houck

Gymnastics business burns near Rio Tinto during RSL game

Sandy Fire crews battled against a 3rd alarm structure fire near the Rio Tinto Stadium during the Real Salt Lake game Saturday evening.
2 days ago
A head on crash between a pick-up truck and a car. (Credit: UHP)...
Michael Houck

Police: One man dead, one in hospital after a crash in San Juan County

One man is dead, and another person is in the hospital after a head-on crash in San Juan County, according to Utah Highway Patrol.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Group from Utah, Idaho grows effort in Poland to help Ukrainian refugees