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Minneapolis teen travels to Poland to aid Ukrainian refugees

Washburn High School junior Brynn Winter and her stepmom, Kate Winter, volunteered with World Central Kitchen to help feed Ukrainian refugees in March.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — It's been one month since Kate and Brynn Winter traveled from Minneapolis to Poland to help feed Ukrainian refugees. 

The pair volunteered with World Central Kitchen for a week in March. 

"So many people, us included, had this need to go and help," Kate said. 

Kate was inspired by a friend to help. She ended up reaching out to World Central Kitchen to see if the nonprofit needed volunteers. After booking her ticket, Kate told her 17-year-old stepdaughter, Brynn. 

Credit: Kate Winter
Brynn Winter with other volunteers part of World Central Kitchen.

"I had seen a lot of photos and things, just scrolling through Instagram, and I was like, 'Okay, I know we can do more than just post things,'" said Brynn. 

Brynn, a junior at Washburn High School, wasn't in school at the time due to the teachers' strike. She asked her stepmom if she could join. 

In a matter of days, they were in Poland and prepping food through World Central Kitchen. They were stationed about 10-20 miles from the border. 

"These chefs put in a lot of time and effort to create food that feels and tastes good to the people coming across," said Kate. 

The nonprofit, founded in 2010 by Michelin-star chef José Andrés, has provided millions of meals in response to the war in Ukraine. 

Kate and Brynn spent a lot of time chopping food and prepping meals for Ukrainian refugees. 

During their week, one of the volunteers raised money to buy hundreds of suitcases. Brynn then traveled with him to the border and gave out the suitcases to Ukrainians. 

Credit: Kate Winter
Brynn Winter handed out suitcases to Ukrainian refugees at the border in Poland in March.

Brynn said about 35 of them went to a women's shelter located on the border. 

"A lot of them are coming in after days and they only had like plastic bags," Brynn recalled. 

She remembers giving a small pink suitcase to a little girl who had recently learned how to walk. 

"She was walking away with her mom... carrying the pink suitcase," Brynn said. "It was just really powerful." 

Kate said after the week of volunteering, "There's also so much need here. It kind of made me realize I just want to double down on what I can do here."

Brynn turned 17 while in Poland and even celebrated by eating cake with chef Andrés. She hopes to study international relations in college. 

Brynn said, "We take so much for granted and I'm so glad we could do anything... any small thing to help." 

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