How do your donated items get to the front lines? And what about the financial gifts that are given? How does Hope Now get much needed funds over to Ukraine? Many of our donors are curious about this.
Rest assured, the practical items that people like you purchase off our Amazon Wish List arrive in Atlanta, are sorted, repackaged, and packed up ready for Children and Soldiers. The boxes of hats, scarves, and warm gloves that American school kids send in are laundered, sorted, and divided up. The plastic bags of hotel shampoos, soaps, and lotions that our traveling donors drop off are made into sets and are tucked inside the winter boots that are designated for the orphanage. The First Aid Kits are opened up and supplemented with 10 additional essential items that we manage to stuff inside. Every flashlight is filled with batteries, and an extra set of batteries is taped to it. The coats and snow pants from Goodwill are examined, washed & dried and used to line the bottoms of all our duffle bags. Since Ukraine operates as a cash society, the funds that you donate online, are turned into crisp $100 bills, and are allocated to our projects and put directly into the hands of our trusted volunteers for distribution (with receipts provided!)
Last week, we managed to get funds to Inna, along with instructions of who gets what. One of our volunteers is army coordinator Andrei Jr – the young man whose father, Andrei Sr was recently killed. Andrei Jr has been very active throughout the whole war, raising funds for his father’s army unit. I had instructed Inna to contact Andrei Jr to give him $1900 for his latest fundraising project, the goal of which was to buy a new Starlink portable internet system for his late father’s unit. Inna said, “Well, as soon as I called Andrei Jr, in literally 10 minutes his colleague met me in Cherkasy to pick up his envelope. It turns out, that just that morning, Andrei made a post on social media, asking for $1900 to buy a Starlink. And boom, your envelope arrived with Andrei’s name on it. God is everywhere.”
The Starlink system was ordered, configured, and delivered to Andrei Sr’s army unit in just a few days. Their communication is now much improved, but many other units need them too.
We actually receive lots of logistical questions and suggestions, about transporting funds & donations to Ukraine. For instance…
Q: Can I mail or UPS my donations directly to Ukraine?
A: Nope – even before the war started, this would take several months to arrive, if ever. Plus, the cost was astronomical. Now that a full-scale invasion is underway, the US Postal Service, UPS and other carriers do not deliver inside of Ukraine.
Q: What about Amazon? Do they have Amazon in Ukraine, and can I just order from them?
A: I wish. Not even Amazon has reached Ukraine yet! Although there are similar online stores that our Ukrainians on the ground can source items from. We have had good luck finding and ordering military clothing and boots from these stores. But there are some things that cannot be found in Ukraine – but are widely available in the USA. (For example, military quality First Aid Kits and CAT tourniquets.)
Q: Does Hope Now ship big boxes or containers to Ukraine?
A: No; it’s not practical for us. We are an intentionally small, focused ministry. We really don’t have a reliable system of internal couriers to get large shipments from the Polish or Romanian border all the way to our location, in central Ukraine. As with any war, there are always people who take advantage. Our donations are very valuable, and we only want them to arrive in the correct hands. Remember, Ukraine is huge – the size of Texas – but with missiles flying in the sky. We can't trust other companies, services, or even other charities to transport our donations and deliver them to the folks they are specifically intended for. We are responsible for equipping our brave volunteers and ministry partners with the vessels they need to serve the least, lost and last.
Q: But how do you get the donated funds to Ukraine? Wire transfer?
A: Cold, hard cash in US Dollars is in high demand. There are restrictions on the amount of money that can be wired to Ukraine. Electronic transfers are also monitored. We follow all of these rules closely and send what we can electronically. However, when we have an opportunity to hand carry cash into Ukraine, we take advantage of that chance. Purchases that we need to make in other countries, like Poland or Romania need to be done in their local currency. However, the US Dollar has always legally been used to trade in Ukraine. High value items such as generators, fruit in bulk, Starlink systems and vehicles all need to be bought with cash.
Q: Then How Do You Get This Stuff Over There? A: People like you hop on a plane and bring it over for us! That’s right – we hand carry all of our donations from the USA to Ukraine. It takes a village too! Some people help us with luggage fees; others with collecting items or packing. And did you know, that if you are already traveling to Europe, making a pit stop in Warsaw only adds 24 hours onto your journey? But some people make a whole mission trip out of it and take our duffle bags all the way into Ukraine to meet some of our awesome and dedicated volunteers. Either way, we will organize everything, and it is a wonderful way to help Ukraine during this long-suffering season. So let me know if you want to revise your Spring Break trip, or next business trip to Europe. I can guarantee you; it will be a highly rewarding way to serve.
Our last delivery of life saving, and life sustaining duffle bags arrived thanks to the Vaghasia family. As you may remember, they brought 12 duffles from New Jersey, to Warsaw, to Lviv where they spent some time getting to know some of our courageous team members. The cash they were able to bring, and the duffles filled with supplies have now made it into the hands of a dozen Hope Now leaders, and in turn, made it to the front lines. In addition, during the past 3 weeks, those leaders have driven 4 separate missions across Ukraine to bring relief and to share the Good News with soldiers and civilians alike.
Oleg said, “We first went to Kupyansk – in Kharkiv region. These are the villages that were constantly under fire. We delivered aid to soldiers and civilians. We told them about your support and they were so grateful. They kissed us when we arrived. A resident of the Kherson region shared her memories of the long days of occupation, namely the referendum, which they tried to convince us was fair. But violence and intimidation are the only language that racists speak. However, the language of freedom cannot be destroyed.”
Oleg and his angels also trekked to Kostyantynivka near Bakhmut, where they brought aid to soldiers and to the few remaining civilians. The desperate residents there said that “no one comes here anymore. We have nothing, but we have God. And now we have you.”
Criss crossing to the other side of Ukraine, Oleg reports, “Today I was in the Odesa region near the Transnistrian border. We handed out military first aid kits, power banks, flashlights, and sweets for the children. The Ukrainian people are so grateful to our dear friends in America. To say ‘thank you’ is not enough. We also pray for you.”
Then up to Luhansk and Donetsk region to bring more relief to soldiers and civilians, while bombs are heard close by. Every meeting in the de-occupied territories is reverent. The residents there said, “We are grateful to our military for protecting us. They are our heros, and we are honored to support them. Ukraine is a place of strong people, and we are convinced of this every day. Thank you for your care and support too. We are working together for victory.”
We have several more requests from various army units in Ukraine. In each of these units, we know at least one soldier personally. Many of these soldiers are deployed church members in our own community, our young men who recently graduated / aged out of the orphanage or relatives of our own team members and volunteers. If you would like to help financially, here is a short list of the most pressing needs for our military volunteers:
We also have a generous donor who will be taking supplies to Warsaw in a couple weeks. If you would like to purchase an item off our Amazon Wish List (Click on the Green Link below) please do so by April 10 so that we can pack all of these goodies and get them over to our eagerly waiting team. May God bless you!
|Click Here for our Amazon Wish List|