EXCLUSIVE: East Hampton chef helps humanitarian effort in Ukraine
A 31-year-old East Hampton father is working to deliver medical supplies and food to Ukrainian citizens stuck in a war zone.
Kristofer Kalas is currently in the area around the capital city of Kyiv, working with a small group of international volunteers.
He is helping to feed people, render aid to those who are wounded and evacuate the people he can.
Kalas says anyone who is trying to leave the country faces a tough road. Kalas said it takes about a week to get from Kyiv to the border, and the journey can be dangerous.
He says a vehicle in his convoy was run off the road.
"We're pretty close to some conflict zones," Kalas says. "It's a pretty desperate situation here."
Kalas operates a coffee shop and bakery in East Hampton called "Hello, Oma."
He married a woman from Ukraine, and they have a 6-month-old daughter.
Kalas splits his time between Ukraine and New York.
When Russia's invasion of Ukraine began, his wife and daughter were in Ukraine and he was in New York.
He flew to Europe and evacuated his family through Poland. His wife and daughter made it all the way to Portugal, but he went back into Ukraine to begin the work he is still doing.
Kalas says it was a tough decision that he had to make with his wife, but they decided they want to return to a Ukraine for their daughter to grow up in.
"In most day-to-day, there's constant air raids, sirens, artillery shells, live gunfire as we get closer to the conflict zones," Kalas says. "Today there was live gunfire, some directed at us. As you could imagine it's pretty terrifying, but you try to keep your head down and just do your job."
He says some nights they don't get any sleep, and some days they don't have any food.
Despite all of the struggles, he says morale is surprisingly high for everyone still in the country.
Kalas say he is afraid every day that he won't make it out of the war alive.
Still, Kalas says he plans to stay in Ukraine until the war is over. After that, he wants to bring his wife and daughter back to Ukraine to help rebuild the country.