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Pittsburgh man, his priest rescue dozens of children from Ukraine, gain support from locals

PITTSBURGH — It started as a mission for Pittsburgher Allen Sherwood to save five children from Kyiv.

Now, he and the 36 children, 22 of them orphans, and six adults he rescued from Ukraine are in the Czech Republic.

Sherwood, a married businessman, and local priest Jason Charron from Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carnegie, are in a hotel after getting the group of orphans and others out of a country under attack.

Sherwood’s and Charron’s incredible journey started here in Pittsburgh on Friday — flying to Helsinki and eventually touching down in Warsaw, Poland. Then they traveled by car to the Ukraine border.

Sherwood tells Channel 11 his decision to make this trip into a war zone is all because of this Ukrainian girl, Karina, who came to visit over Christmas. Sherwood says it was a conversation the two had that set this mission in motion.

“She was sitting on my lap, and we were just talking about Christmas and things. And I said to her, ‘No matter where you are in this world, if anything ever went wrong, I would help you out. I would always be there.’ That’s how this all started,” Sherwood said.

After hearing the bombs going off just outside of the orphanage in Ukraine last week, Sherwood sent an email to parishioners here in the Carnegie-Pittsburgh area about his plan to get these children out. But minutes after hitting send, other families who are trying to adopt children from the same orphanage asked Sherwood for his help to bring those kids out safely as well.

Currently, Sherwood and the children, between 3 and 16 years old, are safe staying at a hotel and trying to figure out what’s next.

“The end game would really be get the kids to America where they could have a life and they have the freedoms and the safety and would grow up in a great country,” Sherwood said.

But Sherwood said these children had to flee Kyiv, and much of their vital paperwork was left behind and now likely doesn’t exist.

“Their records from what I understand got destroyed,” Sherwood said.

He said his goal right now is to make sure the children remain safe. They do have their legal guardian with them as he works on the legitimate process to continue his adoptions.

“They’ll be safe wherever they are at. The problem is the children don’t have any ID cards so they can’t get visas get into our country,” Sherwood said.

A Dollar Bank account has been set up for donations for Ukrainian orphans arriving in Pittsburgh.

Dollar Bank branches will be prepared to make deposits starting Wednesday.

Mail Deposits can be sent to:

Dollar Bank

Ukrainian Orphan’s Care Fund

P.O. Box 3500

Pittsburgh, PA 15230