BP4K Donation Match, Looking to the Future, and an Update from Kyiv

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Alexander Lashyn Handing out BP4K backpacks in Kyiv, Ukraine
BP4K $20,000 Donation drive a success!

On Monday, June 13th, 2022, BP4K received a donation that brought our $20,000 donation matching opportunity to the finish line. Thank you all for your support. We continue to accept donations that fund not only our Ukraine operations but expansion to other areas around the globe where our organization is needed.

Special Update from Kyiv, Ukraine

Children come in all shapes and sizes. They come from wealthy families and poor ones as well. Some are healthy and can run all day long while others cannot even walk. But the bottom line is a child is still a child. They all have feelings and they can all observe their surroundings. The leadership group at OB4K believe that all children deserve protection and love.

The situation in Ukraine has not spared any segment of the population, and children have suffered immensely over the past 3 months. Operation BackPack4Kids was started for one purpose… to help ease the trauma and suffering of these children by providing them a backpack from Americans to show them they are loved. Last week our NGO partners handed out the last 36 bags we had shipped from America along with 25 we made in Cologne. They were delivered to a special needs home/school in Kyiv. Look closely at the photos.

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We are so often asked, how are you doing this? And to be completely honest, at times like this, we don’t really have an answer. The backpacks you supplied where handed over to our NGO partner ‘Alexander Lashyn Charity Foundation’. From there we could only trust that our vetting process would work. And it did, it did in ways we never thought possible. Call it what you want, karma, luck, blessing from above. But we know one thing is absolutely 100% correct and real… it all started when you opened your hearts, wallets, and time so it could happen.

The real hero’s in this story? Alexander Lashyn, a Ukrainian weightlifter, and you!

~From the Executive Director and the Board of Trustees…

Thank you to everyone who has helped us make this operation a complete success. 

BP4K has delivered over 700 backpacks in Ukraine


700+ Backpacks

If there was a Guinness book of world records for nonprofits, Operation BackPack4Kids would hold a few! Against the odds, your small Mom & Pop outfit has now delivered over 700 backpacks to children INSIDE the Ukraine. Every single day, 24 hours a day, someone, somewhere is working on this project. It is impossible to document every single backpack, but here are just a few of the latest photos from a small village named “Balshaya Novoselka”, near the Donetsk Region

Balshaya Novoselka, Ukraine

Last weekend our NGO partner, the OLEKSANDR LASHYN CHARITY FOUNDATION, delivered an array of humanitarian goods to this village. 30 BP4K backpacks made it to these children. According to Pietro who was there, once the word got out that Americans had sent gifts to the children, they came running from all corners of the village. We have worked tirelessly to connect with NGO groups that are “doing” and not just “talking”. To that end, we have vetted our partners and the photos prove it. We are making a difference, and we are bringing a small piece of joy to children who have suffered so much these past few months.

Photo Gallery:
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A recovering 10 year old girl…

This grandfather got a backpack for his granddaughter, a 10 year little girl who was injured in a bombing in Donetsk. Her mother was badly wounded and is still fighting for her life in a hospital, but the little girl was transferred to her grandparents home where she is recovering. See pic below.

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Update on Kateryna

Good news to share: Click here to catch up with Kateryna’s story, the woman who came in to the refugee center and collapsed due to exhaustion last month.

Only 1 week remains for our $20,000 donation match!!

A refugee (student) at a school near Krakow, Poland receives his BP4K backpack.

BP4K’s $20,000 donation drive is 1 week away from wrapping up. To date we are a little over half way to our goal. Click here to donate now.

BP4K at work in Cologne:

May 19th, 2022:

Jackie and I [Bill V.] made 100 backpacks today, 100 candy bags, and 80 hygiene kits. We had a good productive day. We both were looking fwd to a relaxing evening. But…

Leaving the train station, after restocking for the night, Emile came to me in tears…. “What’s wrong?!?” I said.

Bill, this young mother just showed up, her husband was killed 4 days ago in Ukraine, she is looking for a friend who might be in Köln. Her phone doesn’t work, she has no money, and the baby is wrapped in a blanket. Nothing else…

That’s the mom and the baby, still wrapped up in a blanket… But don’t worry, she has clothes now 🙂 – another BP4K small act with a BIG impact.

BP4K given a $20,000 Matching Donation


This little angel received a backpack from us, please help others like her. Spread the word, get it out there, and lets turn 20 into 40!

BIG… HUGE… NEWS….!!!

Operation BackPack4Kids has been given a matching donation of $20,000.00 by a UPS pilot who wishes to remain anonymous. In the next 14 days, starting right now, every single dollar you give will be matched up to $20,000.00. This amazing gift could raise $40,000.00 and provide 1,600 additional backpacks to refugee children.

Anonymous Donor

I asked this pilot point blank, “You know I appreciate this, but this is a lot of money, are you sure about this?” Their response was, “What you volunteers are doing is beyond phenomenal, and I cannot believe you’ve pulled it off. Those children do not deserve to go through this, so thank you to everyone in your group that is making this work.”

Small Act…BIG IMPACT

The European RedCross and the Polish government estimate that between 7-8 million Ukrainians have left the country for shelter in EU nations. We have given out 1,740 backpacks to date. This single fund raiser could almost double that number!

It couldn’t come at a better time either. Look at the Partner/Sponsor page on the website! We are shifting gears into overdrive, moving and delivering backpacks every single day of the week now.

– Bill

Our 1,000th Backpack…

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Alicia and Olja
A mission outside of Cologne

On Thursday, May 12th, 2022, BP4K Founder and Executive Director William Vaughan headed to the outskirts of Cologne to hand out BP4K backpacks. He brought a lady named Olja and our official 1,000th backpack with him.

Backpack 1,000

A few weeks ago we asked Cassandra to prepare backpack number 1,000. It sat in studio 7 waiting for today. Just like Cassandra, you can’t miss backpack #1,000. It’s cool, chic, and totally designed for an awesome little girl!

Olja Ruppel

Olja Ruppel left Estonia when she was 17 and immigrated to Germany. She is married to Glenn (who loves to hunt), and has a son named Evan. She is employed by the city of Koln and works in the accounting department. When the city organized their emergency response services, she was quickly called upon because of her Russian Language skills. Olga dived right into the job of setting up the refugee center that you see now. It was through her persistence that a nursery was established and a large area for children to play, color, and have their own space. And it was Olja who embraced Operation BackPack4Kids and welcomed us like partners. From the very beginning she treated our people like ambassadors. She worked countless hours of overtime and put her heart and soul into helping the Ukrainian refugees. It was only fitting that she hand out backpack # 1,000.

Alicia

We told Olja earlier that she could give the backpack to any girl she wanted, it was her choice. Within seconds of arriving at a small town outside Koln, Olja spotted a young girl in the back of the crowd, holding her mothers leg. Her name was Alicia, a 6 year old from Chernihiv. She came to Germany 4 weeks ago with her mother and her brother Viktor. Olja had found her girl, and the rest? We’ll let the photos speak for themselves…

Alicia about to recieve Backpack # 1,000 from Olja.
More Backpacks

[DISCLAIMER] – We have actually given out 1,622 backpacks to date. 218 went out today in two different towns close to Cologne. When we were 20 short… our van went back for more! We made sure everyone got a backpack today.

Thank you!

What you have done… is beyond words. We hope that you share these photos and stories with your family and friends and show them what can happen when good people pull the rope in the same direction. Thank you everyone, words cannot explain what is happening here.

How our backpacks reach Poland and Ukraine

May 8th, 2022

Small nonprofits like ours fill the holes and meet direct needs. Without us, little things get left out. We will continue our mission, and NOTHING will stop us. So grateful for all our partners!

If anyone deserves praise, it’s this guy… Milo. He’s one of several crazy, awesome, big hearted Ukrainians that risk their lives to drive these vans into a war zone loaded with the backpacks that YOU give them.

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More pictures of our NGO partners:
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Our Backpacks at a Red Cross Storage Warehouse
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Van loaded and ready to go…
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At a village outside Cologne
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Another village outside of Cologne, giving out our 1000th backpack!

Lego’s

On Thursday, BP4K traveled to two refugee centers on the outskirts of Cologne and handed out backpacks to children. Along comes Markus…

Marcus

Marcus came to Germany with his mother/grandmother when his father told them to leave Berezivka…it was no longer safe. This little boy has never, in his life, owned a lego set. I didn’t see him open his backpack from BP4K, but I did hear a little boy yelling, ”LEGOS, LEGOS, LEGOS!! over on a sidewalk, so I went investigate. An Interpreter helped me understand what he was saying. He couldn’t believe on this particular day, that legos would come to him from America. I swiftly got up, walked 30 yards away behind the building and began sobbing uncontrollably.

It hurts to realize that these children are fleeing a very dark situation…but Marcus was smiling. How could that be? I usually keep it together, but this one hurt, and it hurt deep. After gaining my composure, I went back to the van and Markus was still there. He came up to me and hugged my leg. We finished up our trip by handing out a bunch of candy that you have provided and waved goodbye to Markus and the others.

On NGO’s

The work being done here in Europe by hundreds of thousands of volunteers and thousands of NGO’s is difficult to explain. The official governments have very little control or influence on what small NGO’s can and can’t do. So in a way, its been a steep learning curve. But like most things in life, the cream rises to the top. The NGOs who are extremely focused and stay true to their abilities, are the ones that succeed. And more often than not they succeed because they partner with other NGOs that fill in the pieces of the puzzle. That is exactly what Operation BackPack4Kids has done. We have tapped the most talented and educated people in our ranks to oversee certain aspects if what we do, and we are succeeding in an amazing way.

In closing:

Send us LEGOS, candy, coloring books, socks and underwear*… give us backpacks and money! I will personally promise you that it will NOT end up in some pile of stuff at a RedCross warehouse, but it will go into the hands of these children who appreciate it more than you can know. Operation BackPack4Kids has truly changed my life for the better, and it can change yours too if you let it.

With gratitude and appreciation to all who have made this possible,

William “Stevie Ray” Vaughan
Founder and Executive Director
Operation BackPack4Kids

* Please review our How to Make a Backpack page before sending any provisions.

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Bill with a group of kids from a small town outside Cologne on Thursday. Marcus was off camera…you guessed it, playing with his new legos.

Kateryna ** UPDATED**


UPDATE: June 2nd, 2022

A few weeks ago we brought you the story of a pregnant woman who came into Cologne and collapsed. (See below)

Well, good news to report, a healthy 7lbs baby boy was delivered this morning in Cologne! His name is Alexander… and when he leaves the hospital, he and his mother will have new clothes that you generously provided. The gift of compassion has never been stronger and you have once again demonstrated your depth of caring for those less fortunate.

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A woman arrives in Cologne, alone.

Last night, a woman, 9 months pregnant, arrived by train into Cologne carrying only a purse, a dead cell phone, and 20€ cash. For security reasons, we will call her Kateryna though this is not her real name. She came to Cologne to join her mother and niece who fled Ukraine back in early March. Kateryna could have gone with them but she refused to leave her husband, brother, and several other family members who stayed behind. However, her hometown was becoming dangerous so a few days ago her husband forced her to leave. Kateryna was put on an army truck out of Zaporizhia to Kyiv, then to Lviv. From there she traveled by train to Poland, Berlin, finally arriving at the Cologne train station after a multi-day journey. Exhausted, she collapsed on a medical cot in the nearby refugee center.

What we do…

Kateryna’s mother and niece were quickly located and brought to the refugee center. After a brief reunion, Kateryna was transferred to a hospital where she will stay until the baby is born. BP4K’s Director of Operations, William Vaughan, met the family while they were still at the center and sprang into action, taking Kateryna’s mom and niece out shopping to get Kateryna and baby some basic necessities. For baby: 10 baby outfits, swaddle blankets, shoes, and baby towels. For Kateryna, 2 sundresses and a pair of sandals.

Why we do it…

Our motto is “a small act…. with a BIG IMPACT, and that is exactly what a small, laser focused nonprofit can do. No, we can’t provide a backpack to every child or buy clothes or shoes for every refugee… but we are spending the money you have given us when we see the need. No one else can do that. Every nonprofit from the biggest to the smallest has a hole to fill. Ours is small, but we get to see the results immediately and directly.

Today, you made a difference in this family’s life. Today, you helped someone in need. Today, we succeeded in providing hope and love to those who needed it.


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Bill Vaughan with Kateryna’s mother and niece. Note: for security purposes, names have been changed and identities concealed when requested.
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Bill bought Kateryna’s niece this banana because she loves Monkeys…

May 10th, 2022


A School in Zaporizhia, Ukraine

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***PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT***

Today in Zaporizhia, Ukraine (110 miles from Maripol) at one of the only schools still trying to function… This principal gave out 25 of our backpacks to kids who are still coming to school. They asked if they could have 10 more…. Because 10 kids didn’t get one. Let that sink in for a minute. 10 kids, living in a war zone, trying to go to school, didn’t get a backpack. (By the way, we can build 10 backpacks for $250.00 and have them delivered inside the Ukraine).

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There are people working behind the scenes helping our little mom & pop grassroots operation that don’t have too. But we hit the ground in the early days of this tragedy and have since worked 24 hours a day to build a trustworthy logistics line that is working. These pictures prove it. When doors closed on us, we kept knocking until one opened. We captured over 80 contacts from people working in and around the border area in 48 hours… and it paid off. Now, several NGO’s are co-dependent on each other and the machine is running on its own. We also have direct contact with Polish, German, Ukrainian, and American government personal to insure we are not putting our people in direct danger.

What we have pulled off is beyond extraordinary. Just a bunch of pilots with big hearts and tears in their eyes who said… “Nope, done laying down on this one! I’m doing something about it.” And you have. You delivered backpacks to children in a war zone. We were told it will never work, you don’t have the necessary tools for this, leave it to the big boys to do the humanitarian aid… Aren’t you glad we didn’t listen to that?

If you have donated money, time, or backpacks… Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I honestly had no clue this would unfold the way it did, but it has been the most amazing thing I’ve seen a pilot group do in my 28 years of flying. If you haven’t donated, there’s still time… because there are still 10 school kids in Zaporizhia that need a backpack.

I am also forever grateful to the IPA pilots I work with, and their families…

William ‘Stevie Ray’ Vaughan

BP4K Launches New In-House Donation Platform, & Thanks Cassandra

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022

Operation Backpack4kids launched our in-house donation platform on Tuesday via backpack4kids.org. “Bringing donations in-house allows BP4K to significantly reduce the fees associated with mainstream crowdfunding platforms,” says Bill Vaughan, BP4K’s Global Director of Operations. Donors will initially be able to use any credit card of their choosing to place a donation. PayPal and Venmo options are also available. Persons interested in donating can visit: backpack4kids.org/donate-now or fill out the form below.


From BP4K’s Director of Operations, Bill Vaughan:

*** GIANT THANK YOU TIME***

It was kinda sad to see Cassandra walk to the train station this morning as she makes her way back home. We lost count of the hours she donated, but without a shadow of doubt, she gave 14-16 hours a day, EVERY SINGLE DAY she was here. She walked 8 miles a day or more shopping for the backpacks, and it only took her about 40 minutes to figure everything out, and run with it. Not only did she give up her life to come over to Cologne and run the daily refugee center/studio 7 room, she made the whole process better. I will say it again, she left us in a better position than she found us. And for that we will always be grateful. Cassandra, from all of us at BP4K, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Here is a little photo gallery from Cassandra’s time in CGN.

Cassandra’s first few hours – she hit the ground running!
Inside Studio 7
Hauling backpacks to the refugee center.
Woolworth Supply run
Having a little fun!