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'We try to provide that safe haven' | How Charlotteans are helping Ukrainians

Two Charlotteans with different skill sets are offering support to Ukraine. One got back from the country last week and the other is leaving for Poland in June.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As the war in Ukraine continues, people in the Queen City are lending a hand. Charlottean Joe Morales said the images and videos you see overseas are true -- towns are leveled and historical buildings have crumbled to the ground. 

"They’re getting hit every day," Morales said, "A different target, a different city."

Morales volunteered his time through Back Roads Foundation

"Almost 90% of the images you are looking at are civilian buildings," Morales said. 

He was boots on the ground and hand-delivered life-saving resources to refugees who lost everything. He said people are in need of everything from hospital supplies like burn pads to hygienic products and baby supplies. 

In addition to delivering supplies, he spent time working in the orphanage. He connected foster families with hundreds of children.  

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“We try to provide that safe haven and transportation of children from one orphanage to another out of the danger zone," Morales said.

Those interested in donating to Back Roads Foundation or learning more about volunteer opportunities to aid Ukraine from the United States can learn more on the Back Roads Foundation website.

Morales isn't the only Queen City native on a mission. Robert Ernie Alder, also known as Chef Ernie, is the "smokemaster" at Ernie's Smokehouse in Charlotte. Alder is heading overseas at the beginning of June. 

"I'm going to be cooking and making meals for refugees and anything they need me to do," Alder said.

Alder told WCNC Charlotte his ancestors are from Eastern Europe and when war broke out, he felt moved to contribute in any way. 

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"Okay, I could write a check and let someone do the work, and I thought maybe this is my opportunity to do some of the heavy lifting myself," Alder said. 

With the organization World Central Kitchen, he's using his culinary talents to make a difference on an international scale. Those interested in helping bring food to refugees via Chef Alder can donate to his GoFundMe.

Contact Austin Walker at awalker@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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