HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Cold, tired, and homeless Ukrainian refugees keep lining up at the border with Poland. They’re also hungry.

A businessman from Hartford is doing something about that. The CEO of Bear’s Smokehouse is back from a mission of a lifetime.

Bear’s BBQ has locations in Hartford, New Haven, and other suburbs of Connecticut. It’s been very successful, so owner Jamie McDonald is grateful and wants to give back.

He just spent three weeks at the Ukrainian/Poland border cooking for refugees.

In the hours and days after Russia invaded Ukraine, the images of devastation and desperation were all over television and social media.

“And that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to get involved because I saw it and it was just like, you know, I have to do something,” McDonald said.

McDonald, who made a name for himself by creating the Bear’s Smokehouse brand, jumped on a plane and headed for Poland.

“It was definitely life-changing. I’ve done similar things like through Operation Barbecue. I have gone down and fed the people that had the flood in West Virginia or like the hurricane that went through Miami. But this was a manmade disaster, you know, and to see that suffering firsthand, I mean you see it on the news, everybody saw it on the news,” McDonald said.

McDonald volunteered with the World Central Kitchen, a charity that feeds victims of humanitarian climate and community crises. He helped feed thousands of people by making a variety of items like stews, bortsch, hot chocolate, and banana bread.

“But that daily reminder of, you know, giving that person their meal and seeing the smile on their face, it’s very not nice helping them, but it rewards your back and it helps you kind of get through the day, but you see a lot of sad stuff and just a lot of struggles and kind of things where you’re cooking on a daily basis,” McDonald said. “So, you just, you can see it in their faces, the stress, and you could see them trying to hide their tears from their kids, so it’s very sad.

McDonald said while he’s happy to be home, he’d gladly go back to Ukraine if needed and he hopes some of the refugees he met can come to Connecticut if they can’t return home to Ukraine.