NewsCovering Kern County


Local organization travels to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees

“We’re working with local churches."
CityServe Headquarters, Bakersfield (FILE)
Posted at 10:18 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 02:30:34-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Although the crisis in Ukraine is across the world, some Bakersfield locals are doing what they can to make a difference.

Even if it means making a trip to Europe, to be at the border and help on the ground.

CityServe is a local organization that has expanded into different states and countries, and a few days ago, its leadership spent a week in Poland meeting Ukrainian refugees who are trying to get out of harm’s way.

Here’s a picture from one of the warehouses that the Executive Director of CityServe, Karl Hargestam, said they have been using to collect and distribute supplies to people in need.

“Poland has been incredible. In one way, this picture is that they really have opened their arms, welcoming people, and our job is to help hold their arms at this point.”

Hargestam went to the border between Poland and Ukraine, to see how they can help people who are hurting. He calls it a tragic situation with people fleeing their homes trying to escape war.

“You know, this is people that I don’t think anybody expected this to happen, so you could see the shock on a lot of people’s eyes.”

Hargestam adds that through various churches in Europe, they are helping collect and give out food, medical supplies, clothes and other resources.

“We’re working with local churches to kind of be that distribution network. So, we ended up flying a million meals that we prepared from U.S. Now that sounds like a lot, but it’s actually not very much when you have that many people hurting.”

He says that while they were there, CityServe leaders could see what people in the area needed and are now trying to fill those gaps.

“So, what we’re doing is we’re buying more buses and vans helping more people move out and more goods to move in.”

Hargestam adds that they have been using cash donations from people who want to help to buy supplies locally since they say it’s too expensive to ship items to Europe and get them in time to people there.

“There’s also this goodwill. Churches and warehouses, they’re collecting local mattresses, and food and whatever they have, they’re donating. That supply chain goes with trucks into Ukraine.”

He said that he is thankful to the community here for helping raise enough money to help with these donations, and that their work will continue.

“You know with a crisis of this magnitude, it feels like you never do enough, but the people here in Bakersfield have been incredibly generous.”

Karl Hargestam and other members of the CityServe leadership team are making another trip to Poland soon to help distribute more resources and work on doing everything else they can to help residents and refugees.