Breaking News
More () »

Nampa man receives support from around the world to welcome Ukrainian refugees into Poland

Jon Wheeler and his Polish wife Agata Ryberczyk have welcomed refugees into Poland for a month. They're gaining support from people in Idaho and Poland alike.

CHELM, Poland — Nearly 2.3 million Ukrainian refugees have crossed the border into Poland according to numbers from the Polish government.

As the trains roll in daily full of Ukrainian people fleeing a warzone in their home country, Nampa-native Jon Wheeler and his wife Agata Rybarczyk are there to greet many of them with a small act of kindness.

They pass out warm cups of soup and have been doing it for a month.

"People, they remember us now. People who are around us, and they interact with us when the train is coming," Rybarczyk said.

It's a network of people with a desire to help, and it extends far beyond Wheeler and Rybarczyk.

"What we really like is this idea of people helping people, and people doing little things they can to help," Wheeler said.

Rybarczyk received a phone call from a stranger that wanted help; the man turned out to be a friend of Rybarczyk's uncle, she said.

He ultimately donated an old ambulance that allows the couple to deliver more cups of soup per trip. They can now transport 600 cups at once, Rybarczyk said.

"I sincerely love the idea that it's an ambulance. It's a car that before was helping people. And right now we have this old ambulance that is bringing soup to the station and other shelters. I really like this connection," Rybarczyk said.

You can find these connections stretch all the way to the treasure valley.

Hyde and Seek in Boise's Hyde Park is selling embroidered towels for $18 depicting heart in the styling of the Ukrainian flag, according to the store owner Shawnee Kinney. Pam Lotspeich lives in Boise and makes the towels - 100% of the sale goes directly to Wheeler and Rybarczyk's fundraiser.

Pam donated $324 to the fundraiser this month, according to the fundraiser’s donation log.

"This touched my heart," Rybarczyk said. "It shows there are so many different ways you can interact with that situation, and you can help that situation."

People from across the world have donated more than $20,000, according to Wheeler's cousin Julie Cheng. That's enough to make and deliver 13,835 cups of soup.

"We can do something. We can decide what kind of world we want to live in," Rybarczyk said.

The couple will continue greeting refugees at the train track for as long as Ukrainian people are leaving the country, Wheeler said.

Watch more Local News:

See the latest news from around the Treasure Valley and the Gem State in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out