The Catholic fraternal organization announced on Feb. 25 a solidarity fund for Ukraine, pledging to match all donations up to $500,000. So far, the fund has raised over $4 million, and the fraternal organization was able to send a truck of supplies to Lviv, Ukraine’s western-most major city, within days of the invasion, which was then distributed by local Knights.
Polish Knights have established collection sites in Kraków, Radom, and Tomaszów Lubelski, where they are gathering and packaging medical supplies, warm clothing, and other necessities, the organization says.
The Knights’ presence in both countries is relatively new, chapters having begun in Poland in 2006, and Ukraine in 2012. Today, there are around 7,000 members in Poland and 2,000 in Ukraine.
Czyszek said it is the Knights’ goal to provide both immediate and long-term help. At the Ukraine border, the Knights have created what they call “mercy huts” to serve as distribution points for food and water to refugees.
Czyszek said the Knights are working very closely with both the Latin Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The Knights are also working with other organizations such as the Catholic charity Caritas and the Polish government, and they have set up a database of parishioner homes and parish centers where refugees can seek shelter until Polish friends or family can meet them and bring them to a final destination.
Though the Knights have not yet encountered “hostility” in the face of their work with the refugees, Czyszek said many of the refugees are vulnerable and in need of protection. Some families have had to be separated, with the women and children often needing to flee on their own.