CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Viorica and Traian Pacurar live in Satu Mare, Romania, just 30 minutes away from the Ukrainian border. They own Hotel Aurora in Satu Mare, and despite being financially hit by the COVID-19 pandemic; the Russia-Ukraine crisis pushed them to turn their hotel into much more.
In addition to sheltering refugees, they’re also giving refugees free food and water as well as hygiene and medical supplies, not just at the hotel, but also at the border.
Their daughter, Sofia Gignac, and their son-in-law, Nick Gignac, live in Corpus Christi and are raising money to help their family pay for the free services they’re offering to the refugees.
“I didn’t realize the enormous need that was developing very quickly,” Sofia Gignac said.
When her parents saw the mass amount of refugees pouring into Romania from Ukraine by foot, train, and car; taking them into their hotel was not a hard decision.
“Imagine they are coming after a couple of days, the majority of a couple of days, of being on traveling, traveling in cold weather,” Viorica Pacurar said.
They started housing about five to seven refugees, but now they’re housing around 20 a night for free. They said refugees are mostly women and children because men have to stay in Ukraine to fight against the Russians.
“We were moved from what we have seen near us,” Viorica said.
They go to the border often to ask refugees what kind of supplies they need, even giving border agents their phone number so refugees know how to reach them.
Sofia, who is originally from Satu Mare, said she didn’t expect anything less from her parents because they are always lending a helping hand to others.
So far, Sofia and her husband have raised over $11,000, only expecting to raise a few thousand at first when friends initially reached out to them to see how they can help. They said they’re both proud of their family for being so generous at a time when it’s needed the most.
“We started realizing that they’re doing this just by themselves without telling any people and sending us photos of the refugees, so then it was like we want to help,” Nick Gignac said.
The Pacurars don’t know how long they’ll be housing refugees but said the outpour of support from people as far as Corpus Christi has surprised them.
“People from Corpus Christi to help people here, this is amazing. It’s such…a kind of solidarity….across the world,” Viorica Pacurar said.