Bay Area priest on a mission bringing aid to Ukrainian refugees in Poland

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The battle against Russian forces is intensifying and the humanitarian crisis is deepening.

"People just left their homes and don't have anything, just the stuff they could take," said Father Vitaliy Osmolovskyy.

Just days ago Father Osmolovskyy was working on his doctoral degree at Santa Clara University: now he's in Poland organizing aid for Ukraine - his homeland.

"It's just click and you have to go and you're just feeling. It's my responsibility to be here now."

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He's working to reach those in need in some of the hardest to reach places.

"They're living in bomb shelters," he said. "We're looking for volunteers and bringing medicine to them."

Fr. Osmolovskyy's mission includes everything from raising relief funds to organizing logistics.

"It's medical help, it's psychological help, it's support and helping acclimate in new places," he said.

Helping as millions of women and children flee and families are torn apart.

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"When you see two people, the wife and the husband, and the kids, and they're just saying 'goodbye' and don't know if they'll see each other."

Prior to leaving for Poland Fr. Osmolovskyy was doing what he could to support his homeland by helping raise money within the Bay Area community.

At The Polish School in Walnut Creek it started as a one-day event, but the money keeps rolling in.

Patryk Grobelny is a volunteer at the school and said so far they've raised more than $17,000 - all supporting Fr. Osmolovskyy's mission in Ukraine.

"It's unbelievable to sacrifice your life in that calling, but to actually live it and exemplify it is truly remarkable, so we're proud to be part of his life and help him," said Grobelny.

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Students are also showing support in their own way by drawing pictures for the Ukrainian children; some struggling more than others.

"Two days ago I had a call to move 1,500 orphans from Lviv because they had brought them to Lviv," said Fr. Osmolovskyy. "15,000 orphans to move from Lviv to Poland just to help move them."

Helping as people pour into neighboring Poland - pets included.

"With dogs, with cats, with rabbits, you know you see this small kid holding a rabbit crying - it's heartbreaking," said Fr. Osmolovskyy, but also worth it. "If I can help for someone to have just one - at least one small smile - it's a joy, happiness."

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