Local baker and pastor traveling to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees

Local baker and pastor traveling to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees
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The owner of Manolo’s Bakery will be traveling to Poland in May to donate funds to Ukrainian refugees.

Manolo Betancur came up with the idea when he had difficulty wiring money directly. He shared the idea with Nathan Arledge, pastor of missions and community engagement at Myers Park United Methodist Church, and now the two are traveling together.

  • The sense of community that this city has is beautiful,” Betancur wrote in a blog post about his upcoming trip. 

Why it matters: Charlotteans want to help.

  • Axios sees it first hand, with the influx of emails from people in our community asking us to connect them to Ukrainian businesses, or guidance on where to donate.
  • It’s why we created this list.

Context: Betancur has been raising money for several organizations since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. To date, he’s raised $3,500.

  • When he gets to Poland, he’ll meet with bakers who have been delivering fresh bread to refugees every day.

Zoom out: Betancur is known for taking action on his own when he sees people in need of help. For years, he’s traveled nearly 100 miles from Charlotte to the North Carolina foothills, for instance, to deliver fresh bread to the migrant workers who work on Christmas tree farms, as Axios’ Michael Graff has reported.

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When the war in Ukraine first broke out, Betancur pledged to donate 10% of proceeds from his king cake sales to Vet Crew, an organization in Ukraine helping abandoned animals left behind by evacuees.

  • He also designed a cake and doughnuts with the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Net profits from those sales are also being donated.
  • Yes, but: Sales have dwindled. “At first, we were selling ten [cakes] a day, now we’re selling about two a day,” Betancur tells me.

Betancur hopes to deliver more than just money. “I want to fill an entire suitcase with kids’ drawings, and cards,” he said.

  • Pastor Arledge says Myers Park UMC also has a prayer shawl ministry at the church. “They are making several for us to take as well,” he said and encourages community members who knit to contribute.

How it works: Betancur and Arledge will fly to Warsaw, Poland on May 9. You can drop off cards and donations until then at Manolo’s Bakery (4405 Central Ave.)

  • You can also donate via Myers Park UMC via this link. “These funds go directly to our partners in Poland to are working tirelessly with receiving our Ukrainian siblings,” Arledge told Axios.
  • To contact Betancur directly, leave a message at the bottom of his recent blog post.
  • To contact Arledge, email nathan@mpumc.org.

“If you have money in your pocket, you have power to save a life,” Betancur said.

Manolo's bakery doughnuts

Photo courtesy of Manolo Betancur

The big picture: Manolo’s isn’t the only local bakery raising funds. Amelie’s French Bakery is selling macarons to support Ukraine.

  • According to a recent Instagram post, they sold more than 2,000 macarons in one week and have donated $5,000.

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