On Saturday, March 4th, 2023, BP4K hosted a “Build-a-backpack-day,” at our new Louisville Operations center located at Bowman Airfield in Louisville KY. Over 600 backpacks were built in a little over 3 hours. A very special thanks to you for your donations and to our volunteers who got it all done. All of you made this possible!
On February 16th, 2023, we shipped 265 of your backpacks to the disaster area. Additionally we have raised over 20k for relief efforts. We would like to thank the @UPSFoundation for providing space on their recent aid relief flight to Turkey for our backpacks.
What happens to the bags?
Together with the Turkish AFAD we have been assured our backpacks will be distributed as promised. Any donations BP4K receive intended for Turkish relief will be distributed to displaced Turkish children either in the form of our lovingly-hand filled and sorted backpacks or other much needed items.
On behalf of the Trustees, it is a pleasure to announce Operation BackPack4Kids is now an American Red Cross partner. This partnership will allow BP4K access to the Red Cross emergency services network so that we can asses emergencies and disasters throughout North America and respond when we can.
This past week was move in week at Bowman Field!
BP4K is setting up shop and we are moving fast! Thanks to Jeff Fondy, our Director of Logistics, we have secured a climate controlled storage unit and operations room at Bowman Field Airport in Louisville, Kentucky. UPS Captain Jeff Daus offered this space in the War Birds Hanger located at the base of the ATC tower so that we could launch our efforts right here at home. We have purchased over 600 backpacks and are assembling 200 of them for immediate distribution when the time comes.
Bill and Stacie unloading the 600 backpacks.
Backpacks and more Backpacks
Stacie and Cassandra working hard to organize our new storage facility.
Jeff and Cassandra, making it happen!
How you fit into the puzzle…
From the moment BP4K launched almost one year ago, it required the support of many. You made it happen, and only you can continue the mission. Through the generosity of IPA pilots, the IPA Foundation, the UPS Benevity Cause, ALPA, ALPA pilots, and corporate donors, we are doing exactly what we said we would. Now we are going to do it at home. And we need volunteers. We need Moms and Dads, teenage kids, groups like the Boys and Girls Scouts, the Civil Air Patrol, church groups, you name it! We need people who are willing to assemble the packs, load the truck, drive the truck…
Feeling called to help? Awesome…. Contact Capt Tom Livesey email@example.com, our volunteer coordinator and let him know!
It was a hard and very long year. No one thought the conflict in the Ukraine would drag out like it has. Children all over Eastern Europe have had their lives completely turned upside down. It has been hard to watch. But because of people with caring hearts, we handed out over 4,000 backpacks, bought 4 generators, 2 medical transport coolers, a BabyPod, and thousands of dollars of clothing for mothers and children. We also provided funds for the transportation of 12,000lbs of food and baby supplies to the Ukraine and Poland. In the middle of it all, true leadership rose to the top and people with the skills needed to navigate a non profit start up… did just that. Operation BackPack4Kids is a vetted and trusted Nonprofit 501c3 corporation. The Board of Trustees and Advisors have done nothing short of a miracle, and for that we should thank them every chance possible.
Thank you everyone for all that you have done, and hopefully will continue to do. We are making a direct impact on the lives of children… one backpack at a time.
1. Our sincere apologies for such a huge gap between updates. We have been working everyday to transition BP4K to a long term nonprofit corporation. With that comes a huge learning curve, as our leadership works for free, and in most all cases learning as we go!
2. We have officially moved out of Studio 7 in the Marriott, Cologne (Germany). Three big reasons why: We ran out of space, we partnered with Blue and Yellow Crosses, and refugees are not utilizing the facility at the train station in large numbers. The hotel gave us a miracle over the past year, and without them, this project would have faltered most likely. For those who get to the CGN Marriott from time to time, please consider bringing a bag of chocolates or a speciality treat when you visit and tell the hotel staff thank you for what they did.
3. We are setting up our new operations in the BGK warehouse located about 15 mins from the Marriott. This warehouse is shared by 4 NGOs and we will have 24/7 access. Our plan is to have a build date every 6 weeks on a Saturday. Those wishing to help will go over to the warehouse and spend a few hours stuffing backpacks.
4. In Ukraine, the lights are off in many of the orphanages in safe-houses that we have provided backpacks too. Children should not be afraid of the dark so in true BP4K fashion, we purchased portable generators and they are in route as we speak (photos to follow soon).
5. MD11 FO Jeff F. (Director of Logistics) has secured climate controlled storage space at Bowman Field Airport in Louisville, Kentucky. Soon we will be stocking that facility with backpacks ready to go when the call comes in! We are very excited to launch our mission right here in America.
ASK YOURSELF… WILL YOU HELP CHILDREN DISPLACED BY DISASTER BY DRIVING THE BP4K UHAUL SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA? THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO GET IN THE GAME!
6. Until our next update, please consider giving to your charity, BP4K. That’s right, it belongs to you when you give. You will not find a more transparent group of IPA pilots who have worked thousands of free hours to help children in need. To this day, we still talk to people who have no clue what Operation BackPack4Kids is. Our mission has been a huge success by staying focused, not overreaching or making promises we can’t keep, and staying out of the politics. Our focus was, is, and always will be helping children who are down on their luck, no matter where in the world they are.
~On behalf of Bill, the Board of Trustees, and all the volunteers who are making it happen… We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday season.
BP4K is so happy to show off our new transport van we helped sponsor. Every single week this van leaves Germany for Poland and the Ukraine border… loaded with backpacks, food, clothes, household supplies. Whatever has been donated or is available is taken to people and children who desperately need it.
When our small operation began, so many of you gave money and volunteered your time to help us achieve our goal. We have been good stewards of the donations you provide, and we are proud to say 94% of every single penny you have given has gone directly to refugee children. 4% of the budget has gone to purchase items like the coolers, or fuel for trips. 2% of our budget covers administration costs of the corporation. No one at BP4K receives any monetary compensation, or reimbursement for lodging or food. Your volunteers are truly just that… VOLUNTEERS.
~Charity Navigator generally gives its highest rankings to organizations that spend less than 15% of expenses on overhead. The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance recommends a ratio of less than 35%.
Together with our NGO partners in Europe, we are seeking donations to provide refugee children Christmas presents this year. If you feel compelled, and want to provide a monetary donation for this project, now is the time to make it happen. Every single penny donated now through Dec. 15th will be used to purchase a Christmas toy or new clothing for a refugee child.
NEW PARTNERSHIP Effective today, BP4K are now in a formal partnership with Blue and Yellow Crosses a.k.a. Blau-Gelbes Kreuz (BGK).
This partnership will allow BP4K 24-7 usage of BGK’s warehouse facility in Cologne. Backpacks that we ship to or build in Germany will now be done at their facility. BGK has agreed to bring in our NGO partner “Friends of the Ukraine” and continue providing material assistance to this group. In return, BP4K will serve as the USA contact group for BGK, and assist them in purchasing humanitarian aid within the USA.
I have worked with Linda from BGK since March of this year, and her NGO has done some amazing things. BGK has identified over 2,000 children in orphanages and safe houses throughout the Ukraine that are in dire need of help. Many of these kids are orphans from the death of a parent of care taker. Food, clothes and medicine are just the beginning. This partnership will be a wonderful advancement for all of us. Ukraine Air Rescue is also in partnership with BGK. We are forming very formidable alliances in my opinion.
BP4K IN THE USA While this new partnership will allow us to continue expanding our ability to help refugee children in Europe, it also allows us to begin establishing our operation and base back in Louisville. Stay tuned for more updates…
CGN STUDIO 7 CLOSURE Effective Nov. 7, 2022 we will end our support for the Cologne Breslauer Platz refugee center and close our studio 7 operations at the CGN Marriott. I am in the process of moving all the supplies over to BGK this week.
BP4K DELIVERS ITS 4,000th BACKPACK Wednesday we will ship out 200 bags and that puts us at 4,080 backpacks.
We are deeply sadden to report the death of Doctor Oksana Leontyeva, a specialized children’s oncologist in the city of Kviv. She was killed early October when a cruise missle stuck a Kviv street she was driving on after having dropped off her 5 year old son at daycare.
Dr. Leontyeva worked in the children’s hospital “Okhmatdet” where BP4K has partnered to deliver medical supplies and backpacks since August. Her loss is a terrible blow to the children inUkraine: As a specialized oncologist in bone marrow transplantation, her death brings even more challenges to help Ukrainian children with cancer.
We are happy to announce that BP4K has been vetted and approved by the Microsoft Corporation, and we are now eligible for grants and products from Microsoft. While this announcement may not seem like a big deal, it opens doors to networks and funds previously unavailable.
Additionally, we are now part of the Ukraine NGO Coordination Network UNCN. This real time network of over 100 NGOs allows directors instant access to real time data/information in the Ukraine and surrounding countries as the various NGO groups work together to offer their resources to one another. This network connects NGO groups with one another, establishing communication links for directors and staff personal to help deliver their aid more effectively.
***UPDATE, September 22nd*** As we close in on backpack number 4,000… that’s right, almost 4,000 backpacks delivered through Operation BackPack4Kids… we cannot rest on our accomplishments. There are still hundreds of thousands of refugee children displaced in Europe. We are in this for the long haul. Running a legitimate, vetted nonprofit requires the energy of a third grader, and the wisdom of a elderly statesman. BP4K has both, otherwise we would have folded shop months ago.
Be rest assured the money, supplies, time, and prayers you have provided this organization have not gone to waste. We continue to be laser focused, working with our trusted partners that we depend on to deliver our backpacks. Because of this, we can see the results of our work. Close to 4,000 children have been given a small glimpse of love and compassion by you, through Operation BackPack4Kids.
Children have a much different method of processing their emotions. Anxiety, pain, and loneliness are constant for the refugee children we are helping. Many of them have not seen their fathers or male family members since the beginning of the war. Many are with their elderly grandparents, and others have no one but another sibling. The situations these children find themselves are harsh, and very hard. But we must remember, they are still children.
The latest delivery of backpacks made their way to Pervomaisk. A medium size city in central Ukraine where thousands of children and the elderly from Eastern Ukraine have fled to avoid the fighting. We know it’s difficult to see these photos without asking the obvious questions. Our volunteers have worked thousands of hours this year trying to help as many children as possible, and we too ask ‘why’. Here are several photos of children in a safe house who recently received a backpack. In the midst of sadness, loneliness, and confusion, they are smiling. They are smiling like it is Christmas morning.
And these smiles, these happy faces, and the brightness shining through their eyes… It happened because of people like you. People who give their time and money so we can give them backpacks full of love.
Enjoy the photos, and as always, thank you for everything you have made possible. In a hundred years we never thought we would give away 1,000 backpacks, and now we are almost at 4,000.
A grassroots effort launched by IPA B747 First Officer Bill Vaughan to aid Ukrainian child refugees has now helped thousands of children in need. Today, the IPA Foundation presented Operation Backpack4Kids, a 501.c.3 organization, with a $25,000 check to aid in its efforts to provide backpacks filled with essential and comfort items to displaced Ukrainian children.
“Backpack4Kids truly appreciates the Foundation’s support,” said former IPA Vice President Erick Gerdes who serves as an Advisor to the Backpack4Kids Board of Directors. “The IPA Pilot and Staff members who contribute to the Foundation are making a difference in the lives of children around the world.”
Thousands of backpacks filled with blankets, hats, gloves, and other essential items have been delivered to children arriving in Cologne and surrounding areas, as well as locations in Poland [and within Ukraine]. Backpacks also include comfort items such as a barbie doll, toys or coloring books. The organization even made tailored bags for mothers with newborns, special needs families and families traveling with elder parents and grandparents. While the charity is currently focused on aiding Ukrainian child refugees, Backpack4Kids’ mission has grown to include assisting children around the world who have been affected by major crises. For more information on Backpack4Kids, please visit https://backpack4kids.org/
People with compassion for others, do good things, even when it’s not always convenient or fun. Meet retired Delta 777 Captain John Bone of Florida. John said he woke up one morning and watching the news and said he felt like he needed to do something, anything to help he refugees fleeing the Ukraine. After searching the web, he came across Ukraine Air Rescue, and the wheels starting turning. Flying his Cirrus airplane from Florida to Germany, he now flies a weekly mission into Poland (and places close to Poland) delivering medical supplies, transporting doctors, medical staff, and evacuating patients.
BP4K provides temperature controlled coolers used to transport medicine on small aircraft such as John’s plane.
Today John flew flight number twenty with the GoSun powered cooler that we provided UAR. Thanks again to 767Z Captain Stacie B. who made that happen!! We have played a small part in transporting over €140,000 in medicines with these temperature controlled coolers. Way back we told you the story about the need for a transport cooler. Temps are record high in Europe right now, and these coolers are a must have for the logistics chain partners that provide movement for these medications. They have been used almost daily since being handed over, in transport vans and airplanes!
Thank you to all our supporters, donors, and volunteers!
Everyone who has provided support to BP4K through time, money, supplies… you did it because you believe in what we are doing. That takes a tremendous amount of trust. It is a sacred honor among the leadership of BP4K to spend the resources you provided in a manner that has a direct and impactful result on the lives of children who are affected by disasters outside their control.
From backpacks, luggage, school supplies, clothes, shoes, BabyPod transport device, GoSun Coolers… It all happens because you gave something… and for that we will always be grateful. And we will say it again… We are just getting started!