HOUSTON - The United Nations is now reporting more than 4 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February. Houstonians are continuing to do their part in helping with the crisis.
One local woman, for example, will be flying to Poland Friday to volunteer.
Nell Lukosavich’s bags are packed, and she’s ready for what’s likely to be an emotional journey back to Poland to help with the refugee crisis.
Over the last two weeks, Nell has collected essential supplies and donations with the help of social media.
"I raised about $10,000. I’m flying over exactly the 250 lbs. of excess baggage limit. I'm bringing baby formula, diapers, feminine products, different items for kids, band-aids, things like that," said Nell "And part [of the] items are simple medical things like tourniquets, quick clot kits."
Fluent in Polish and proficient in Ukrainian, Nell’s multilingual skills make her the perfect volunteer. But her family's history is what's motivating her decision.
"My family survived World War II and Soviet occupation and all the things that Poland went through for all these decades. My family’s been in that same position before of having to flee and be refugees in other areas, and they always found kindness in people that would take them in and help. So I figured this is kind of the 40 years later, my turn to really kind of pay it back and pay it forward," Nell said.
Nell has taken time off from work and is leaving behind her 7-year-old kid for this volunteer mission. She's expected to stay in Poland for at least three weeks.
Nell has been training with the Ukkraine Refugee Relief group and will meet with city of Warsaw officials upon arrival for dispatch.
Similarly, Houston businesses are also pitching in to fundraise for Ukraine.
Urban South Brewery in the Heights will launch a beer with blue and yellow labeling, honoring Ukraine starting Thursday.
"This is our double spilled Slava Ukraine. It is a pineapple, tangerine and banana spilled. Spilled is actually our most popular series of beers," said Anna Jensen, the General Manager at Urban South Brewery HTX.
The beers will be served in their taproom starting Friday at noon. The fundraiser will last until supplies run out.
"100% of the proceeds, we’re not keeping anything in house. We’re sending it all to the International Rescue Committee to support their humanitarian efforts in Ukraine," Jensen said.
The beers will be sold on tap and in cans. Prices start at $22 for a 4-pack and the draft options will sell at $7.50 a pint.
According to Jensen, Urban South has brewed a 10-barrel batch, which equates to approximately 60 cases of cans. The brewery also has a large supply of draft as well. Urban South Brewery opens at noon every day.