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The outdoor industry has sprung into action to help collect and transport vital supplies to Ukraine, with many initiatives coming from individual outdoor companies and also industry bodies such as the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA), European Outdoor Group and the Polish Outdoor Group.
In a recent update, the OIA reported that former British Army intelligence officer Tim Bradshaw had returned from delivering 300 sleeping bags and 5000 ration packs into Ukraine supported by the team from Vango. They noted that “the problem is not as straightforward as it appears. Whilst the situation is terrible, the refugees are in fact moving towards safety and support. Almost as soon as you cross the Ukraine/Polish border at Medyka, you receive food and clothing. The real challenge is inside Ukraine. The Russian attack is relentless and the majority of people fighting are not professional soldiers but volunteers from all walks of life. They have little in the way of equipment and are freezing to death during the night. What they need is food and warm sleeping bags which can dramatically increase their chances of survival and help to maintain the incredible fighting spirit they are demonstrating. The same is true of the medics, hospital staff and support teams that are looking after both soldiers and local population”.
The most urgently needed items include quality sleeping bags, sleeping mats, down/ insulated jackets, ration packs and dried food in large quantities. Money is needed to pay fuel and travel costs, despite all the time and personnel involved who are volunteering free of charge.
Elsewhere there are many initiatives from outdoor brands going on. KEEN has pledged to donate €50,000 in cash donations to the Red Cross and Global Giving to provide immediate support to local organisations. KEEN has additionally teamed up with their local distributors in Poland and the Czech Republic, to support Ukrainian refugees at the Polish, Slovakian and Hungarian borders, providing footwear and other essentials. LifeStraw is working with its European partners to distribute water purifiers and filters to those who have been displaced and left without access to safe, drinking water; as of March 4th, LifeStraw had shipped over 800 of these purifiers and filters to Romania, with more shipments planned.
The major aid agencies such as Red Cross (www.redcross.org.uk) and Unicef (www.unicef.org.uk) are all running fundraising campaigns of course, and one of the biggest appeals is being run by the Disasters Emergency Commitee (www.dec.org.uk) which works with scores of charities and in-country agencies to deliver aid to where it’s needed. Tim Bradshaw’s fundraiser and a range of other fundraising efforts can be found at: www.gofundme.com/ukraine