A group of Polish people, accompanied by some locals from County Down, are appealing for financial help in order to send aid to Ukraine. When Russia invaded Ukraine over a week ago, and refugees started travelling to Poland, the Polish community here realised that help was needed. Sylwia Menzyk, who runs Floresco Flowers in Kilkeel and is from a place in Poland near Katowice, said that she and a few friends felt that they should help. “We started off as a one-off charity, now it has got massive. “We met each other here and we decided to use our contacts from Poland. From one friendly gesture it turned into a massive movement from across Northern Ireland.” They put the call out for donations of goods and the response was astounding. “We are so grateful for all the goods. We are getting sent vanloads of stuff from people and I don’t know who they are. They are just helping.” But the group have run into some trouble. They have amassed a huge amount of donations of goods that can go to Poland, however the group can’t afford to send the lorries. “We thought as a group of people we could send one or two lorries. We didn’t expect such a massive response from the local community, which is amazing. “The problem is, who is going to pay for the lorries? We have the goods, but now there is a logistical problem. We are facing lots of logistical problems. “We are postponing the collection for a few days so we can see what sort of funds we can gather to secure ten lorries to go to Ukraine and Poland. “My heart is broken because I can’t afford to send a lorry every week. Milos (one of the other Polish people who is part of the group) can’t either. We need help.” So they are calling for support, financial support, from people so that they can get enough money to send lorries. “We have the logistics of where we are sending the stuff under control. We just need the help with the lorries. “If we were to raise £100,000 then we know we could send lorries twice a week.” Currently, they are in the process of getting three lorries to Poland. “Three lorries are booked already. One is already on its way, and will be in Poland on Monday. The second is leaving on Tuesday. The third is leaving the following Tuesday. Those three have been paid for from our money. “People are starting to give us cash now but it is slow. We can’t guarantee that we are going to have ten lorries until we know how much money we will get.” The aid work is very personal for the likes of Sylwia and her Polish friends. They are more acutely aware of what is happening as they see at first-hand how the war is affecting their own country. “If that was your family over there what would you do? That could be us next week if Putin keeps going the way he is. “Polish people are poor people as well. “They feel the danger is coming closer to Poland. That is the honest truth. “They are very scared.” The reason why so many people have donated goods to Sylwia and her friends is that the local community realises that she knows exactly where the lorries are going. “Our families are there, and our friends are there and they are telling us what is going on. They are sending us the pictures of the orphaned children who are coming to the border.” Sylwia has taken a break from working in Floresco Flowers and other staff are running the shop while Sylwia focuses her attention on how to get the funds in to send more lorries to Poland. “Maybe we can open people’s hearts and some money will come. “I am speaking with a girl who is sending stuff to Kyiv. It is stuff that soldiers need. That is going from Warrenpoint, medicine, and stuff for mothers and babies who are under ground. “They are running out of food. We know where they are. “I have a full shed, I have four vans that are packed to the neck. But I don’t have the money to send another lorry this week.” But she added that the efforts from the locals in south Down has been heart-warming. “The girls from Lavender Stables heard that we were organising the collections, and they asked if they could pick up the stuff with us. “We are at their place because they have bigger storage.” And she also mentioned businessman Paul Devenney from Warrenpoint who is sending lorries to Poland free of charge. “Paul Devenney left from Warrenpoint and is taking a lorry to my brother. “He is sending his vans for free. “He is taking all the goods and not charging a penny. We need more people like that.” The Honorary Polish Consul Jerome Mullen has set up a Just Giving page and Sylwia has asked anyone who wants to give money to their cause to use this page and that will help them raise money to help with logistics.