Volunteers from Arizona staffing kitchen for Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, Poland

They serve between 5,000 and 15,000 meals a day in Warsaw and operate in other cities across Poland and Ukraine.
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 5:00 AM MST|Updated: May. 2, 2022 at 11:38 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Volunteers from Arizona are helping to staff a makeshift kitchen, serving thousands of meals a day to Ukrainian refugees in Poland. “I couldn’t sit at home watching the news anymore. I had the means, and the time to travel here, so I came to do whatever I could to help,” said Christian Heil of Chandler.

In March, the 28-year-old personal trainer arrived in Poland without any solid plans or contacts. He quickly found various volunteer opportunities in and around the central train station in Warsaw. “I’m not a chef, but I handle everything from food prep to cleaning to running food,” he said.

Another volunteer, A Polish chef, left his everyday kitchen to organize and operate the cafeteria operating inside a series of tents. It’s under the umbrella of the World Central Kitchen but is primarily run and funded by volunteers and donations. They serve between 5,000 and 15,000 meals a day in Warsaw and operate in other cities across Poland and Ukraine.

All of the work is done by volunteers. Another Arizonan, Jessica Hirshorn of Scottsdale, works as a supply runner. She stops to see what food or kitchen items are needed and goes with another volunteer in a cargo van to stores to stock up.

“We’re going to buy a thousand cups today and other things they need more of. Healthy things like bananas and oranges for ‘go bags’ are on the list today,” Hirshorn explained, writing a detailed list in a notebook.

Heil also works inside the train station, helping refugees with various challenges and needs, from documentation to housing to cell phones. “When I do go home, I’ll 100% value everything in my life. You see people with a suitcase, and that’s their life. I go home and have a home and pool and car, which are things I take for granted every day.”

Heil arrived more than a month ago with no plans to leave. “I might be here until the tents go down. My heart and soul are here,” he said.