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Since the war in Ukraine started, Americans have been seeing image after image of heartbreak and so much senseless loss. But it’s inspiring many to act.

Rags of Honor’s primary mission is employing veterans. They make shirts and other clothes and sell their own special coffee. But when the attack happened in Ukraine, their mission changed.

Mark and Kip Doyle recently returned from their first trip to the Ukrainian border. After gathering supplies, they flew from Chicago to Krakow and then drove to Korczowa. The journey is nearly 5,000 miles.  Their timing was fortunate. 

“We got to the border and it was 20 minutes after the missile attack happened inside the border, so they shut it down,”  Mark Doyle said. 

“However, one-eighth of a mile from the border on the Polish side was a humanitarian aid center. … It was an outlet mall that they turned into a humanitarian aid center in real time within days.”

The Doyles and their team were ready to get to work.

“We brought pallets and seabags full of socks, brand new socks, hats, gloves, diapers, baby wipes,” Mark Doyle said.

But the level of need was so high, their supplies collected from contacts around chicago vanished in mere hours.

“It was never ending. It was relentless,” Mark Doyle said. 

“That day alone, 4,000 refugees came to that location. At midnight, 17 buses rolled in with refugees. They just came all day and all night long. All into the night 24 hours a day.”

They describe the shell-shocked refugees as exhausted, homeless, overwhelmed and not sure where they were going next. Some walked for hours and hours, some carrying babies. And children trying to keep up. 

“Imagine a 5-year-old. The sum total of everything this child has in his life is the truck that my wife just gave him. That’s what we saw for 20 hours a day,” Mark Doyle said.

But amid the destruction of their homes, the Rags of Honor team witnessed kindness and generosity, especially from the people of Poland who welcomed the refugees into their country and sometimes into their homes as best they could.

“What I saw the most (was) the Polish people embracing people coming into their country. What this situation has done is uniting people around the world,” Kip Doyle said.

“It’s the strength of these people, and it showed the heroism of Zelenskyy and the people. I’ve never met anyone like this. Ukrainian people are heroes.”

The team from Rags of Honor is returning to the border May 6. This time, they have a planeload of necessities and they’re still collecting clothes, rolling suitcases and medical supplies.