Gastonia Man Returns From Ukraine After Handing Out Relief Supplies For Children

GASTONIA, N.C. – A local man has just returned from Ukraine, where he handed out relief supplies to children and families.

Joe Lenihan spent two weeks documenting what’s happening on the ground at the Ukrainian border.

The Gastonia developer handed out more than a thousand relief kits for refugee children and their families.

“It taught me, I think, a gratitude, you know, for the blessings that we have here, that we just take for granted,” he says.

Lenihan flew to Poland, then drove to the border. He visited different crossings — some that were busy, and others that were not.

“And it was interesting for me to learn that I had to follow the war. You couldn’t just show up at the border because the war dictated — where the Russians were attacking dictated where the refugees were coming from,” he says.

He saw a difference in those fleeing Western Ukraine and those coming from further East.

“Then there were the ones that were coming out of Mariupol, that had just been shelled and there was a blank stare look in a lot of them,” he says.

Lenihan plans to return to Ukraine in May, bringing even more supplies.

“There’s this feeling that comes over you, of just this wonderful feeling, that you were able to do something for somebody, and they made you feel better, while you were making them feel better,” he says.

Lenihan paid for his own flight and transportation to Ukraine, but has started a GoFundMe page to help with supply donations.

See Lenihan’s YouTube videos of his trip.