Utah men bring supplies to Poland, help start daycare for Ukrainian refugees

Apr 18, 2022, 5:42 AM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 1:28 pm

Two Utah men are sharing their experience helping Ukrainian women and children refugees fleeing into Poland.

Not only did they bring supplies and donations from Utah, but they also happened upon unique opportunities to help—and that work continues even after arriving back home.

Jared Turner and Josh Adams said they began texting back and forth when the war started in February, wondering how they could help.

The two longtime friends began to research, and decided they wanted to volunteer for on-the-ground work. Turner and Adams booked plane tickets to Poland, and then came up with a plan.

“We started gathering supplies, networking, and things like that,” Adams said. “But we made the decision to go kind of spur-of-the-moment, and then we caught up to the, ‘This is what they want, this is what they need,’” Adams recounted.

The two originally met each other 25 years ago as mission companions in Venezuela for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Adams and Turner began to form another kind of mission trip as they teamed up again—this time, to serve people escaping their home country with nothing but suitcases and clothes on their backs.

As they networked with resources in Poland, Adams and Turner also began to fundraise at their workplaces. Turner explained that Amare Global, where he is CEO, collected donations.

Adams is the Orem City Police Department Chief. He indicated that officers and their families pooled together donations, and also wanted to make sure Adams had something uplifting to bring to the Ukrainian people.

Kids and staff members made cards filled with well wishes for Adams to hand out, he explained.

Next came buying supplies to bring to Poland. Turner said that Scheel’s gave them a discount, and with the donations, they purchased medical and emergency supplies like emergency blankets, LifeStraws, and hammocks.

They described how they each filled three suitcases to the brim and flew out.

For the next eight days, they focused their efforts on helping at the Poland-Ukraine border, as well as at train stations.

“We’d go to a train station, we’d ask what the needs were, help where we could,” Turner said. “[We’d] give out some of these supplies, cash, the supplies we brought from Utah.”

They each talked about meeting resilient, courageous women and children who had to leave the men behind and start over.

Turner said he’d see kids in the train station sitting around with their mothers and grandmothers, knowing they didn’t know where they were going.

For Adams, he said many of the women didn’t want cash donations—they wanted to focus on finding a job.

Their fighting spirit, he said, is what left a lasting impression on him.

“Just this attitude of, they’re a very strong, independent, wonderful people,” Adams shared. “I was so encouraged by their attitude that, here they are having to leave their homeland, their homes, and everything else– and they’re like, ‘I’m looking for work. I’m looking for independence. I’m looking to continue on.’”

The duo happened to meet a Ukrainian woman who owned a business in Ukraine that she left behind which sold children’s items.

This woman, they explained, wanted to open a reception center and daycare for refugees in Warsaw so that the women would have childcare while they worked at their new jobs.

Adams and Turner described using their donations to help kickstart the center and acquire supplies like carriers, pacifiers, and formula.

“Now we’re already talking about, ‘Okay, well let’s start talking into May and June about how we can continue to support this, as long as there’s a need. How can we make this last?’” Adams said.

The work helping that daycare center, they indicated, will continue. Turner said he also supports World Central Kitchen, which was set up in Poland to provide food.

Amare Global, he added, started a round-up program where people buying products can round the price up and donate to organizations helping in Poland.

During their trip, they had the chance to visit Auschwitz, and recounted the somber experience while thinking of what was unfolding just two hours away.

It added a deeper tone and meaning to the humanitarian trip.

“Coming from the border to Auschwitz was almost overwhelming, emotionally, to think that those atrocities were happening just across the border– and that we hadn’t learned to be better as people,” Turner reflected.

While they brought much-needed supplies and help to Poland, the two brought back an even greater purpose and message for Utahns.

“We have to remember the suffering of the people and pay attention to it, not get numb to it,” Turner said, adding, “and continue advocating for refugees and for this conflict to end.”

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Utah men bring supplies to Poland, help start daycare for Ukrainian refugees