2 people in Charlotte looking to help Ukrainian refugees

More Charlotteans are stepping up the efforts to help Ukrainian refugees following Russia’s invasion.

CHARLOTTE, NC — Charlotteans have become part of the humanitarian aid for refugees from Ukraine and more locals are sharing their efforts to show support.

Iryna Amiramova, a registered ER nurse in the Charlotte area, is heading back to Poland.

“It’s still war going on in Ukraine, and refugees are still needing help,” she said.

Amiramova, who was born in Ukraine, moved to the United States 10 years ago. The volunteer group she joined recently up a three-week stint at a camp tending to the medical needs of refugees in Poland. For her next trip at the end of April, she plans to ride in an ambulance with one of her volunteer partners.

“We’re going to evacuate people from anywhere in Ukraine,” she explained. “So my partner’s right now in Poland. They’re going away to Kyiv or central Ukraine, where they can get people and evacuate them as quick as possible.”

RELATED: 24-hour shifts | Charlotte registered nurse among volunteers helping Ukrainian refugees in Poland

Her group also opened up a small field hospital 15 minutes from the Ukraine-Poland border.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, more than 4.5 million Ukrainians have left the country since Russia’s invasion in February. As of April 9, nearly 2.6 million refugees have ended up in Poland.

“It’s on Ukrainian territory,” Amiramova said. “That’s for people who can’t cross the border or who don’t want to cross the border.”

An Amazon gift page has been created for anyone wanting to contribute to Amiramova’s group.

A local chef is also planning to travel to Poland in June.

“In my gut, I just wanna do whatever I can to help these people in some small way,” Robert “Ernie” Adler said.

Adler is raising money for World Central Kitchen through a GoFundMe page and will volunteer by cooking with the nonprofit organization.

“What they do is they go into war zones and hurricane zones … they set up a mobile kitchen right away, sometimes before a hurricane happens and they bring in the whole logistics,” he explained. “They’ll actually go in to local restaurants so they don’t have to worry about bringing stoves and ovens and all those things. So they help keep those restaurants keep operating.”

Adler told WCNC Charlotte the situation in Ukraine hits close to home.

“Generations ago, many of my ancestors came from either the Kyiv area or Russia as well,” he added. “In fact, during college at the university, I studied Russian and Russian history, so I always had an affinity towards part of the world. And in the past 40 years, I’ve just kept up on politics and history.”

Adler said he wants to help in any way he can, even if it seems small.

“If you’re a refugee coming off a train or a bus and the only things that you have are whatever you have in your suitcase or on your back … and if you can go into a facility and get a home cooked meal and it’s hot … at least, they have a little bit of sunshine in that day in their life,” he said.

RELATED: Want to help Ukrainians? Consider donating to these charities

Contact Jane Monreal at jmonreal@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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