One Catholic Fraternal order, the Knights of Columbus, has managed to pool together a sum of over $4.5 million dollars for relief efforts for Ukrainian refugees, reported organizers this past Tuesday.
The Director of the organization’s International Growth in Europe, Szymon Czyszek, spoke out on a press call held with reporters on Tuesday from their camp in Krakow, Poland, where he talked about various stories of Knights of Columbus factions with boots on the ground in Poland and Ukraine.
“Within days, from the beginning of the war, we were able to send a truck full of supplies, medical supplies, food, clothing and other necessities that thousands of refugees needed as they fled to eastern and central Ukraine towards western Ukraine,” he stated.
“We started Ukraine’s Solidarity Fund,” he went on to say, seemingly referring to the Knights of Columbus donation fund.
“We encourage every person who sees what’s happening over there, who’s watching news to join our movement, our cause to support Ukraine,” he stated to the press. “We have no overheads, 100% of the donations that we receive go to the relief effort. So I encourage anybody who is asking himself, What can I do? Join us and we can do many things in Ukraine, for Ukraine.”
Ever since the announcement of the group’s humanitarian venture by its leader, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly, on the 25th of February, the organization stated that it has managed to raise well over $4.5 million in order to provide food, medical supplies, clothing, shelter, and various other types of relief for anyone seeking to flee from the invasion into Ukraine currently taking place.
Czyszek spoke about how the knights set up “Mercy Huts” along the border in Poland, roughly 100 feet away from the crossing, embodying the orders previous “Everybody Welcome, Everything Free” campaign in Europe from back in World War 1.
“When the people cross the border, they can stop by and they can get some warmth,” he stated. “They can get some food, some water.”
The organization has members of the Knights of Columbus working the relief tents “all the time,” he claimed, working alongside various other groups and knights from Poland as well as any other countries who “are willing to come and assist.”
“These huts will be critical points of information or support that refugees need after waiting for hours, days in line, in freezing temperatures,” stated Czyszek.
He also stated that they were working on plans to set up another tent on the other side of the border as groups of refugees are stuck waiting to cross so that the knights can assist in feeding, warming, and providing shelter for those still waiting.
“These are the sites where the knights serve refugees,” he stated. “They provide a place so they can get warm … get some food and water and also some instructions, what to do next when they enter this new reality when they had to flee their country at a moment’s notice, very little belongings that they could take with them.”
“I will tell you that every day I receive messages, from my brother knights who I have worked with for years, and they are asking me if I can take care of their wives and children, if they could come to the border,” Czyszek stated to the media. “And we do. These are real people with real stories who are facing dramatic choices. And we, the Knights of Columbus, are there to help provide needed help.”
The knights are currently working arm in arm with both the Greek and Latin Catholic Church in Ukraine, as stated in a Knights of Columbus press release, and many Polish knights have set up donation collection locations in Kraków, Radom and Tomaszów Lubelski where they are seeking to gather more supplies such as medicine, warm clothing, and other necessities.
The Archdiocese of Lviv has officially named the local leaders within the Knights of Columbus in Ukraine to part of an “Anti-Crisis Committee” in order to organize and distribute the humanitarian aid, stated one press release.