Man journeys to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees

'This is so riveting and personal,' Garrett Jay Ellberger says
One man's journey to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees.PNG
Posted at 10:20 PM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-07 09:10:38-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Garrett Jay Ellberger took hundreds of photos during his time in Krakow, Poland. He was inspired to journey to Poland and help Ukrainian refugees.

"I, like so much of us, were watching the war unfold and I literally just said, 'I want to go help,'" he said.

He began researching organizations with which to partner. Eventually, a rabbi in Poland contacted him and said yes. Ellberger bought a one-way ticket to Poland the next day.

"Almost none of the people in need are men," he said. "They're still fighting in Ukraine, so you're talking about women, children and grandparents."

children in Ukraine.PNG

In one suitcase, he had bulletproof vests and tourniquets.

"The other suitcase was toys that I bought — all new, clothing, anything that I thought would cheer someone up that didn't weigh too much or take up too much room," he said.

Clothing for Ukranians.PNG
Toys for Ukranian kids.PNG

Once in Poland, Ellberger eventually found the Jewish Community Center of Krakow. He headed to a grocery store and bought 100 pounds of food and started handing it out.

Food for Ukranians.PNG

He then made connections with local business owners to buy socks, sneakers and underwear to hand out.

"If I saw at breakfast a woman with some young children, and maybe a grandmother or grandfather, I'd say, 'What size is he?' and 'What do I have in my room from here?'" he said. "And I'd run down with a stuffed animal, coloring book and crayons and I'd ask, 'Is it OK to give to your children?' They were so gracious."

Ellberger stayed in Poland for just over three weeks. He said the experience to help Ukrainians in Poland is life-changing.

"I would still be there. There's no question," he said. "This is so riveting and personal."

In total, Ellberger raised more than $11,000 to help with supplies. He said he's planning on returning to Poland.