A train driver rounded up 3,000 teddy bears to put a smile on the faces of Ukrainian refugee children, who had to leave their homes behind with mostly nothing more than a school backpack.

David Fricker, 40, a train driver from Somerset, the United Kingdom, was vacationing in Budapest when Russian forces invaded Ukraine last month. He was able to see waves of refugees coming in at the Nyugati railway station, and he volunteered with the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid charity at the time to put together food and toiletry packages for refugees.

“The thing which upset me most at the railway station was seeing the children arriving with nothing more than their schoolbag,” Fricker was quoted saying by the New York Post. “Yet the light on their faces from the few free teddy bears we could give them would melt the coldest heart.”

Fricker was moved to tears when he saw a child refugee’s face light up when a teddy bear was handed over to them. “Seeing the way the child's face lit up is a memory that will probably stay with me forever,” he told BBC.

The moment stuck with him as he returned to the U.K. So he asked his friends to help him provide, not just the basic necessities for refugee children, but also some “joy and comfort” during these turbulent times.

With help from three other friends, Fricker managed to collect about 3,000 teddy bears for the children as part of his Teddy Busz project. They also received toys, children’s clothing and other supplies that were donated by friends, family, local schools and businesses.

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The three friends — Mike Sherston, 42, also a train driver, Neil Sansam, 41, a telecoms engineer, and Adam Smith, 38, who works as a National Health Service training coordinator — joined Fricker in taking 10 days of unpaid leave just to travel to and from Hungary to deliver the teddy bears and other supplies.

Some of the teddy bears also had notes written by other children attached to them. “We've tried not to read too many because they really hit at the heart,” Fricker told BBC.

Fricker, his friends and the Teddy Busz set out on their journey to Zahony, which is near the Ukrainian border. They began driving down the 53-seater-bus full of teddy bears on March 13.

“Little people can do little things for... the children,” Fricker told the publication.

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Updates from the Teddy Busz Facebook page include moments that the men have shared at the railway station in Zahony.

Representative image Credit: Pixabay / Pezibear