A Tuscaloosa County man will fly to Romania this weekend before traveling to Cracau, Poland to aid Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country amid Russia's invasion.

In an exclusive interview with the Thread, George Berry said he recently retired after spending 10 years in Tuscaloosa County's Public Works department and has been closely following developments in Ukraine since Russia invaded in late February.

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As the war there has dragged on, Berry said he felt more and more convicted that he should be doing something to help. After months of research, he discovered A Drop in the Ocean, a Norwegian nonprofit formed specifically to help refugees and other displaced persons.

The organization is set up now in Cracau, where they are assisting people fleeing from Ukraine, primarily with the distribution of clothes and shoes but also with language classes and IT training. Berry said he will spend four or five weeks there, primarily serving as a logistics coordinator for the nonprofit.

"I don't have a great deal of money, but I retired a month ago, so I've got time and I knew I could help that way," Berry said.

Berry is funding his first trip independently but said he plans to return to Poland in 2023 to continue helping the group. To that end, he has launched a GoFundMe and is asking for donations to allow him to continue volunteering without going broke early in retirement.

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"Here's what got me," Berry said. "Putin isn't fighting a war. He's killing and displacing civilians. These refugees are being run out of the country with only what they can carry, and a lot of times they have nowhere to go back to, nothing but rubble. Can you imagine that?"

Berry said in his retirement, he has "a little time to give back," and wants to do so for the Ukrainian refugees.

To learn more and help Berry cover the cost of this volunteer work, check out his GoFundMe here. 

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