SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Within hours of hearing of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Dan Golosinskiy and Vlad Loboda purchased tickets to Poland. 

Both men were born in Ukraine. Both men now live in the Ozarks.

Golosinskiy has lived in America for nearly 30 years, “Quite a bit of time. I never thought this war would impact me so personally.”

The trip was heartbreaking.

“Seeing people emotionally, not just broken, but demolished,” Loboda said.  

As soon as Golosinskiy and Loboda were on the ground, they were able to set into motion a plan to help refugees partnering with Connect Church and Convoy of Hope. 

When they first arrived at the border, they were surprised by the situation. 

“As we got into Poland, we realized quickly that the Polish people are taking such great care of all the refugees,” explains Golosinskiy.

The one area they felt they could make an immediate impact is by ministering to children. They went to the closest store and bought hundreds of Teddy Bears and stuffed toys. 

As women, children and elderly poured into Poland, they were there to help in any way they could.  Even ways they didn’t expect. 

“The mom was just yelling ‘help, help, help,’” Golosinskiy said. “So as I ran up to there, she said ‘do something with this child.’  As soon as I picked up this kid, he calmed down right away. She’s like, can you hold him for just five more minutes? Maybe he can fall asleep in your arms.”

One little girl is etched in Loboda’s mind. A seven-year-old named Amalia.  Amalia and her parents spent 14 hours every night volunteering at the border. 

“When I was looking at her, I was looking at my children. When I was looking at other kids, I saw my children. I saw my situation. It is emotional. That girl was my hero, honestly,” Loboda said. 

Both Golosinskiy and Loboda will be going back to Poland in early April. They will be making sure food and supplies that have been donated are getting into Ukraine.