US nonprofit driving essentials to Ukraine refugees at Romania border

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Mercy Chefs – a Virginia-based nonprofit dedicated to feeding survivors, volunteers and first responders after a natural disaster strikes – has been deployed to Romania to assist famished Ukrainian refugees crossing the border. 

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For the last 16 years, co-founder and CEO Gary LeBlanc and his team have traveled to more than 150 disaster zones in 25 states and nine countries, serving upward of 20 million meals through mobile and community kitchens.

People cross the Ukrainian border to Siret, Romania, Wednesday, March 2, 2022, as they evacuate Ukraine amid Russia´s invasion.
((AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

On Monday evening, the team departed for Europe for a different kind of mission. 

“While we have been all over the world to help people get back on their feet after a natural disaster, this is unique,” LeBlanc said. “We will help welcome those fleeing their homes to Romania with food, water, essential needs and love.”

LeBlanc told FOX News that they are focusing on delivering essentials – like basic groceries, water and sanitary supplies – to thousands of Ukrainians entering the border country.  

They are even crossing the border into Ukraine to deliver supplies to refugees who have been waiting nearly 60 hours to cross over into Romania. 

“We are seeing a lot of refugees come across the border,” LeBlanc said. “The numbers are just increasing day to day.” 

People cross the Ukrainian border to Siret, Romania, Wednesday, March 2, 2022, as they evacuate amid Russia´s invasion of Ukraine. 
((AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

And while they wait for days to escape Ukraine, “they have no water, no food, no blankets,” LeBlanc added. “And it’s freezing overnight.” 

The organization is already preparing to send out three large passenger vans filled with groceries to sites near a border crossing between Romania and Ukraine. 

LeBlanc said his team is also working to supply the families that are hosting Ukrainians in Romania as well. 

“Romanians have been so incredibly hospitable, opening their homes, putting them up in boarding houses and hotels, and taking care of them,” he added. 

Ukrainian refugees arrive at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

In the days ahead they plan to do what they do best: set up field kitchens in areas of the greatest need. 

LeBlanc said they are still in the process of looking for refugee camps where they can start serving hot, chef-prepared meals. 

“This is going to end up being a much larger situation than it is right now,” LeBlanc said. 

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