Portlander helps evacuation efforts on the Ukrainian border

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 5:46 AM PDT
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KRAKOW Poland. (KPTV) - A Portland-raised college student spent more than a week helping refugees on the Polish border.

Hunter Baldridge is a graduate Central Catholic High School, and he is now earning a master’s degree in Spain. When he realized he was just a short flight away from helping Ukrainians, it was an easy choice.

“We saw there was the invasion of Ukraine,” says Baldridge. “We just started talking to each other and decided we could do something.”

Baldrige is a 23-year-old graduate student from Portland who is currently completing a master’s degree in international relations in Madrid, Spain.

When the war broke out, Baldrige jumped on a flight to Poland, touching down in the city of Kraków near the Ukrainian border.

From there, Baldridge and his friend spent hours in a rental car, clocking more than ,500 miles back and forth to the border.

“We found out that they needed people to drive,” Baldrige says. “We transported 43 people, predominately women, single mothers with their children and grandmothers, who’ve we’ve helped reunite with their families.”

Exhausted mothers, frightened children and the elderly all fleeing Ukraine – many of them not knowing where to go or stay but finding safety and compassion in two strangers despite the language barriers.

“Some of them knew thank you, and that’s what they would say, and that was enough,” Baldridge says.

He and his friend took refugees to train stations, airports and buses. They also set some families up in hotels and housing from donations collected from family and friends back home.

“It’s chaotic, each family is different but what we’d try to do is help each one individually, take them where they needed to go,” says Baldridge.

What was most surprising for Baldridge was just how much he and others were desperately needed, volunteers like himself, from all over the world.

“At the border, you’d think there would be a lot of aid groups, you’d think there would be the UN the Red Cross,” says Baldridge. “But they’re not there in sizable numbers.”

For more than a week, it was life on the road, back and forth, long days and nights to lend a hand and spread some hope.

“It was definitely worth it.”

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