Update: Local man thankful for prayers, donations to assist Ukraine refugees

People all over the world have stepped up to help fund relief efforts for the people of Ukraine, including people here in the Diocese of St. Cloud. And Ted Bechtold appreciates it.

Ted is working in Bucharest, Romania, teaching English to refugees, helping in a shelter and also raising money to send to people in need who are still trying to leave Ukraine.

The Central Minnesota Catholic talked to Ted in March about his work raising money to help Ukrainian refugees in securing shelter and food once they cross the border into Romania.

Ted is pictured with a former student from Kyiv. They are now working together teaching English in Bucharest, Romania. (Photos courtesy of Ted Bechtold)

A native of St. Joseph and member of St. Joseph Parish , he had been working before the war as an English teacher in Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, and was living in Romania near the border.

“One of my former students, whom I was teaching in Kyiv, is an English teacher here now,” Ted said. “So, I’m helping her. We are teaching a class together for elementary kids. And then tomorrow I start a high school class that meets once a week.”

Ted said he has raised several thousand dollars to help Ukrainian refugees thanks to donors, many from the Diocese of St. Cloud. He was able to send $3,000 to Ukraine last week, he noted, and has a reserve for future needs.

“A few days ago, [Ted] purchased food and diapers for a shelter in Bucharest,” said Bruce Bechtold, Ted’s father. “He used funds donated by the students and staff at Cathedral High School [in St. Cloud].”

“We’re sending out money all the time,” Ted said. “We’re trying to pace ourselves because we know this is probably going to be a long war.”

He said it’s hard to hear some of the things his friends in Ukraine are telling him about what’s happening there.

Donations were used to purchase diapers and formula to help the family of this baby in Kherson, Ukraine.

A friend originally from the town of Bucha, just outside of Kyiv, returned there to help after stories of mass killings and the torture of civilians came to light. The friend told him about mass graves in Bucha and in the neighboring towns of Irpin and Hostomel.

“Those towns are really close to Kyiv,” Ted said. “They’re probably a 20-minute drive from where I was living just a couple months ago.”

He’s thankful that everyone he knows is still alive, he said.

“I don’t know how much longer that’s going to last, though,” he said. “It seems like it’s getting closer and closer. Nobody I know has died yet, but lots of my friends have had their close friends or family killed.”

Ted said he appreciates people praying, staying updated on the news and any monetary donations, if they are able to make them.

“I even feel helpless here being in Bucharest,” he said. “It’s still pretty far away from Ukraine.”

Donations to help Ted and others working with him can be made electronically via PayPal at bechtoldted@yahoo.com, or by mail or in person to Magnifi Financial (formerly Central MN Credit Union) in St Joseph. The address is 1300 Elm Street East, St. Joseph, MN 56474. Checks should be made out to Magnifi Financial with “Ted Bechtold’s Ukraine Fund” in the memo.

Top photo: Supplies purchased for a shelter for women and children in Bucharest.

Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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