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WNY family launches effort to help Ukrainians get to safety

A GoFundMe has already raised more than $18,000 of its $50,000 goal.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a month ago, 2 On Your Side has been sharing stories of how Western New Yorkers have been stepping up and helping out.

Whether it's donating money, or even supplies to help Ukrainians get out of their country freely and safely, people in the area have gone out of their ways to do anything they can to help.

Kris Van Huystee is an American citizen, but has been working in Ukraine.

He, along with his wife Katya and their son Dima, managed to escape the country and make it safely to Poland, but it wasn't without some help from Kris' coworkers.

His mom, Kateri Ewing, talked a little more about his journey to safety.

"I think they realize how fortunate they were to be able to get out," Kateri said. "They had a very hard time leaving the country. The windows were narrowing, it felt kind of hopeless for a while."

Kateri says they made it across by the good graces of his employees.

One employee flew from Boston, Massachusetts, to Poland. Kateri says he traded his wrist watch for a vehicle, drove across the border to where Kris and his family were, and brought them back.

Since Kris and his family made it to safety, they decided they wanted to help more Ukrainians come to safety.

They have since helped out more than 80 women and children make it over to Poland.

And that's where Kris' sister, Anna Van Huystee, comes in.

She created a GoFundMe, where all money raised is helping those women and children by providing them toiletries, lodging, clothing and much more.

Anna says the turnout has been incredible.

"I've been getting messages for last couple of weeks on how I can help what can I do, I said donate," said Anna. "It's truly the only thing we can do for these people right now. People are more than generous and it's just incredible when you see what people are capable of and how much love and generosity people really have."

The goal is to raise $50,000 and right now, more than $18,000 has been raised. If you would like to donate, click here.

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