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

(KSL TV)...
Josh Ellis

Two killed in Taylorsville shooting; police searching for suspect

Police say two men were shot and killed at a Taylorsville apartment complex late Monday night, and officers are still searching for the suspect.
8 hours ago
...
Shara Park

How a Utah bill would put cell phones, smart devices on hold in the classroom

Utah could soon be the first state with a law restricting cell phone and smart watches on students in K-12 classrooms. KSL spoke with teachers and students at a Utah high school with a no-phone policy already in place to see what they think.
1 day ago
...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: The ‘most used’ photos to catfish victims in romance scams

KSL Investigator Matt Gephardt shows us some of the most widely used photos in romance scams and how we can protect ourselves.
1 day ago
...
Matt Rascon

Plant is likely to blame for 19 elk deaths in Mapleton, DWR says

A certain plant is likely to blame for the deaths of 19 elk found in Mapleton over the span of a week, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said Monday.
1 day ago
FILE PHOTO...
Pat Reavy

House cleaning argument ends with man running over wife, police say

A Utah County man was charged Monday with running over his wife while their children were in the car after the couple had been arguing over keeping the house clean, police say.
1 day ago
Outside of the Cache County School District building. (KSL-TV)...
Madison Swenson

Box Elder, Cache County, Logan school districts on two-hour delay Tuesday

Schools in the Cache County School District will start two hours later than normal on Tuesday, Jan. 31, due to a wind chill warning in the area.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Group from Utah, Idaho grows effort in Poland to help Ukrainian refugees