LOCAL NEWS

Utah men, Idaho brother help Ukrainian refugees at nation’s border

Mar 18, 2022, 7:34 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 3:37 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Two Utah men are in Poland right now, and along with a brother from Idaho, are doing what they can to help with the fleeing Ukrainian refugees.

The men rented large passenger vans and are traveling back and forth to the Ukrainian boarder to pick up refugees and take them to safety and to places with food and shelter.

“We’re in a plaza in the middle of Krakow, (Poland),” Rob Sturgill said to KSL via Zoom.

It was 10 p.m. at the time, and the day was still far from over for Rob, who is from Idaho. David is from Utah, with John Norton also from the Beehive State.

“There was a lot of tears shed today,” Sturgill said. “Not sleeping, not eating, not drinking.”

Since last weekend, the men have been working practically around the clock to help with the refugee crisis.

“You just watch busloads and busloads of these women and children coming off, and they are just startled and scared, and they’re in a situation where they don’t know what to do,” Sturgill said.

They said the most difficult part of helping out is not having enough room for everyone in their vans.

“A young lady came up to me and she said, ‘Would you please help us? Would you please help me and my children and my mother? We need to go to safety.’ It’s just touching to see the impact that we can have, you know — just individual people helping out individual people, we can make a difference.”

Back in Utah County, their story is hitting close to home at Freedom Prep Academy in Vineyard. Third grade teacher Fidias Penate, whose wife runs a dance studio, is organizing a Ukrainian Dance Concert with some popular dance groups for Saturday night as a fundraiser. The event starts at 8 p.m. at the school, located at 426 North 100 West. Fidias is working with the Sturgill’s sister who is a teacher at the school.

“Doing something rather than just feeling bad about what’s happening — doing something to help the people,” Penate said.

The men in Poland also felt like they just needed to do something. Now, the challenge will be leaving a place and a people they have come to love.

“I think the difficult thing is, you know, to feel like we’re leaving when there’s so much more to do. I think that’s the hard part,” Sturgill said.

All money raised at Saturday’s dance concert will go to the Sturgills’ nonprofit organization* that is helping Ukrainian refugees.


*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Utah men, Idaho brother help Ukrainian refugees at nation’s border