EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — What started out as a freelance assignment for one Long Island photographer turned into a personal mission to bring aid to refugees struggling overseas.
Doug Kuntz, of East Hampton, was sent to Greece on a photo assignment. But after seeing firsthand the hardship of migrating refugees, he decided to stay in the country as an unpaid volunteer.
“You can see all this stuff and read it n the paper but until you stand in front of those boats and see the looks on those people’s faces, ” Kuntz said.
Kuntz chronicled his volunteer work on the island of Lesbos by posting photos to social media. Back on Long Island, Kuntz’ work inspired a movement, spearheaded by the nonprofit East End Cares, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
In Montauk, many local businesses have pitched in to sponsor an East End Cares volunteer group, which plans to travel back overseas later this month.
“So I’m on my way over, we leave day before Thanksgiving, arrive Thanksgiving Day and all my bags are packed with medical supplies,” Robet Miller, a schoolteacher and EMT, said.
East End Cares volunteer Joy Hear, a Sunday school teacher, worked with her students to collect hats and scarves for refugee children.
“We sorted them out and pinned a little red heart on each hat that said ‘with love from USA,'” Hear said.
Kuntz said 40,000 refugees arrived at refugee camps on the island of Lesbos each week while he was there.
“It is the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two,” Kuntz said. “Without a doubt, six million people on the move in Europe right now.”
Kuntz plans to return with the local volunteers to continue to help strangers fleeing their war torn homelands in search of a better life.