THOUSANDS of boxes of donations have left collection points ‘bursting at the seams’ thanks to an appeal for Ukrainian refugees instigated by a Barnsley man with Polish heritage.
Barnsley has rallied together and donated more than 6,000 boxes of essentials to be transported to Poland so far - where Ukrainian refugees have been flocking to in their thousands after being forced out of their war-torn home country.
Since businessman Henryk Matysiak first put out the feelers for setting up a collection less than two weeks ago, a main organising group of around ten members and at least 200 more volunteers have stepped up to help him with the borough-wide operation.
Henryk has aunties, uncles and cousins in Poland - a connection which inspired him to spearhead the collection.
The 59-year-old ex-firefighter, of Hunters Avenue in Pogmoor, has said he is ‘overwhelmed’ at the amount of support which has flooded in in such a short space of time.
“The amount of local businesses and people who have offered their help and are acting as collection points is unbelievable, it really has been an overwhelming amount of support,” Henryk told the Chronicle.
“It’s gone really, really, well so far.
“This all just shows that there are a lot of wonderful people out there - it really has been heart-warming to have overseen this.
“I would like to say a big thank you to all of the volunteers - and every last person who has donated, collected, sorted and helped with transport.”
The main issue the collection now faces, Henryk said, is the storage and logistical help to be able to accommodate the rate at which items are coming in.
“What we could really do with now is a large industrial unit to use as a drop-off centre,” he added.
“Our collection points are really overrun - some have been forced to stop collecting for now - so an empty unit would avoid us stop relying on businesses and other places which aren’t designed for this.”
Volunteers set off for Poland in the first lorry on Tuesday with 2,100 boxes of donations in tow, and a further lorry is set to leave early next week.
Henryk has said the lorries will continue to be provided thanks to an agreement he has with a haulage boss, and he estimates Tuesday’s trip to be the ‘first of many’ as donations will be needed for months to come.
A plethora of other businesses have stepped up to offer their services - including Yorkshire Rose Holidays, who Henryk says have ‘played a huge role’ in the operation.