‘This is our way of paying it forward’: Point Pleasant Beach mayor speaks to News 12 from Poland

A special connection to the region and desire to help the growing refugee crises led Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra to spend nearly a week volunteering along the border of Poland and Ukraine.  
Credit: Mayor Paul Kanitra (Facebook)
“This humanitarian crisis is going to explode exponentially,” says Kanitra.
Dire predictions from Kanitra as he helps at a refugee center in Przemysl, less than five miles from Poland’s eastern border with Ukraine.  
“You are going to get into a situation very soon here where the people who can’t afford to leave Ukraine and who don’t want to leave are going to be forced to leave and have to leave because war is going to come knocking on their doorstep,” says Kanitra.
Credit: Mayor Paul Kanitra (Facebook)
Kanitra sent News 12 videos and photos of his work in Poland from the last few days, helping hand out supplies with the Polish Red Cross and cooking hot meals for refugees with World Central Kitchen.
He says his town shares a special relationship with the Ukrainian people.  
“Every summer they come, they jump in, enjoy our town, help operate the rides and boardwalk attractions,” says Kanitra. “They keep our economy chugging along. They’ve made a lot of great relationships with Point Pleasant Beach and this is our way of paying it forward.”
Credit: Mayor Paul Kanitra (Facebook)
As long as war continues, Kanitra sees no end to what he calls a growing refugee crisis.   
“This is just a trickle what we are dealing with right now. In the next week or two, this could grow 10-fold,” says Kanitra.
Credit: Mayor Paul Kanitra (Facebook)
Kanitra is scheduled to return home to the Jersey Shore Thursday, and has identified three charities he says can use donations from people looking to help.
Credit: Mayor Paul Kanitra (Facebook)