Northeast Ohio man hands out cash to Ukrainian refugees in Poland

Paul Jeris found it wasn’t as easy as he thought, until he found a little help.
Paul Jeris, from Put-in-Bay has traveled to Poland to help hundreds of thousands Ukrainian...
Paul Jeris, from Put-in-Bay has traveled to Poland to help hundreds of thousands Ukrainian refugees. Pictured here with two Ukrainians, Anastasia and Diana,who are helping him pass money out to families in the Warsaw train station.(Source: Paul Jeris/Facebook)
Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 1:26 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2022 at 1:28 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Paul Jeris, who asked to be called Put-in-Bay Paul, is doing more than just donating to a good cause because of the war in Ukraine.

Jeris went to the source of the problem to help.

Since Wednesday, Jeris has been in Poland witnessing hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing war, pouring across the border.

“Despair. People cold, people crying, people lost, people don’t know where to go. All of their possessions in a wheelchair on the side of the road. Every emotion,” Jeris said of what he’s seen at the boarder of Poland and Ukraine. “And then in the middle of it, little kids are playing soccer.”

When Jeris heard of the invasion by Russia, and impending refugee crisis he knew he needed to help.

But the successful businessman in and around Put-in-Bay, said it needed to be more than just clicking a ‘donate’ button on a charity website.

“My grandparents escaped Poland, and they talked about it when I was a kid,” Jeris said. “And I honestly thought if my sister, or my mom, or my nieces and nephews were ever in this position who would be there? And it could be me.”

With as much cash as he could legally fly with, and hitting ATM’s in Poland, Jeris estimates he’s handed out $24,000 to people who have no idea where they are headed.

But it wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be, walking up to strangers and handing out cash.

“This is a proud people,” Jeris said of Ukrainians hesitancy to accept the money. “First of all, as a male, frightened people, not speaking the language, it doesn’t work.”

So he found what he calls two angels.

Better yet, they found him.

Three days before our interview, two Ukrainian students knocked on the window of the car Jeris was sleeping in on the boarder of Ukraine and Poland.

They were looking for a ride, but it end up being a much more than that.

They’re names are Anastasia and Diana, and Jeris dropped them off near Warsaw, but that wasn’t the end of their relationship.

“They called me the next day and said, ‘Mr. Paul you shouldn’t sleep in your car.’ And I’m like really? You just came across a refugee crisis and then I knew I could use them as a tool,” Jeris said.

Diana, who also speaks English, became a translator of sorts.

$100 at a time of Jeris’ money, the two young women walked up to families in the Warsaw train station and simply explained the donation.

“It means a lot,” Jeris said. “You hand them $100 and they cry.”

Jeris has posted many videos on social media throughout his mission in Poland, many of which show the newly formed friends passing out cash.

Here is the greatest post I have ever done in my life! Please if you could watch at least the last 5 minutes. I met these two girls while I was sleeping in my car on the border of Ukraine. it wa the middle of the night. I woke up took them to Mcdonald’s and then to the train station, gave them $100 which they DID NOT WANT TO TAKE!! They said you have already done more than we could have dreamed. i said dream bigger take the money. The next day they called me from Warsaw and said Mr. Paul are you ok?? I thought why?? They said no one should have to sleep in their car. I thought wow! Fast forward three days. I can not as an American male pass out money to proud strangers. The girls call me and Asked how can we help you. I said i will pay you to pass out money at the train station to incoming refugees. They said no you won’t, you have already done to much. Here I am arguing with women refugees in Poland. I gave in I was beaten again (women). Initially even female Ukrainian girls had a hard time passing out money to people in need. I thought go to to Mr Ed’s in Put in Bay and pass out $100 bills at random every would take it instantly and say “Is that all”? so now i’m teaching about sales and motivation and how every no leads to the next yes and all my sales training stories. BOOM their success ratio went to about 95% and they passed out Over $7000 in a hour to seven needy family’s. Fast forward to this they are like he Mr Paul just give me the money. We can do this and we know who needs it most. They could understand why i was crying but what she said in the end was beyond incredible. Let’s get rid of rat Bastard Putin, start a Put in Bay for Ukrainians fund. I’ll have trained salesman in the ground and we will help thousands of people directly and I might a few cocktails and invite the Piano Guy!!!

Posted by Paul Jeris on Monday, March 7, 2022

While on his way home to Northeast Ohio today, Jeris said he will gather more supplies and money and return.

Ultimately, when the war is over, Jeris said wants to make a trip to Ukrainian capital of Kyiv to help rebuild.

Copyright 2022 WOIO. All rights reserved.