MINNESOTA, USA — As Ukrainians flee their homes, a Twin Cities-based nonprofit is helping get them to safety.
"The atrocities that are being perpetrated there are beyond belief," said Dr. Marshall Wade, board chair for Shepherd's Foundation.
The nondenominational organization has been traveling to Ukraine with various mission teams for nearly 30 years.
About five years ago, they built Camp Maximum — about two hours south of Kyiv. The place offers opportunities for camping and retreats with a focus on camps for kids with special needs.
Now Camp Maximum is being used to help refugees. The other night, about 170 people arrived from combat zones.
"We've now got six vans and we're trying to purchase two more. Every day very courageous men drive these vans into the combat zones to pick up the refugees," Dr. Wade said.
Those who drive the vans also bring in food and supplies before taking Ukrainians away from hot zones.
CEO Vitaliy Sobko is giving video updates from the camp.
In his most recent one he said, "I'm really convinced that we need to act fast and try to get out as many people as possible. Especially when we hear reports that Russians don't care where they shoot. Their tactic now is to shell residential areas and just make Ukrainians suffer."
More than 1.7 million Ukrainians have now crossed into Central Europe, according to the UN.
Sobko said they get between 700 to 800 calls a day from people confined to their basements.
"They're calling saying they're out of food and water and can somebody come get them," Dr. Wade said.
Besides providing food and shelter, Dr. Wade said they help with the next steps.
"They're just normal people that are suffering and we're trying to get them out of those areas and then take them to the west. Especially with those special needs kids. You can imagine trying to be in a wheelchair in a war zone. So we've already sent several buses of special needs kids towards Lviv in the west."
When Dr. Wade asked Sobko if there was anything he would like to tell the people in the U.S. he said, "We will win this war! We will never give up!"
If you would like to help, you can donate through the Shepherd's Foundation website.
Dr. Wade said donations will be used for immediate needs such as clothing, food, vans and fuel.