BP4K Moves forward…

A child receives a BP4K backpack earlier this year.

8 December, 2022

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.

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Bill V. Closing out our Studio 7 at the Cologne Marriott Hotel.

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.

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747 First Officer Mark E. helps unpack our supplies at the BGK Warehouse.


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. 

(PS… we have handed out over 4,000 backpacks! 

B)

 Bill

BP4K: November Update

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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.

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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.

Stay tuned for our next update, the power has been turned off in many parts of the Ukraine, but Operation Backpack4Kids is helping turn the lights back on!!! 

B)

Thank you to everyone who believes in our mission and is helping make it happen.

BP4K Partners With Blue and Yellow Cross

OCTOBER 31, 2022

Several major changes are taking place at BP4K:

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.


IN MEMORIAM

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.

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Thank you for your continuing support of BP4Kids!

William Vaughan
Executive Director, Global Operations
https://backpack4kids.org/

New BP4K partnerships!


***SPECIAL UPDATE***

September 27th, 2022

  • 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.

Approaching Backpack # 4,000


***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.

Victoria

Operation Backpack4Kids receives $25,000 IPA Foundation Grant

(Pictured Left to right: IPA Foundation Trustee B757 Capt. Dan Bradley, Operation Backpack4Kids Board of Directors Member MD-11 Capt. Erick Gerdes and IPA Secretary and Foundation Trustee B757 Capt. Lyndon Shumaker

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/

From the Independent Pilots Association.

A warm thank you from all of us at BP4K!

Transporting medicine across Europe….

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022
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John Bone and Kay Wolf (Exectuve Director of UAR) loading the cooler for a trip to the Ukraine via van… John spends his days volunteering in the Blue and Yellow Crosses supply warehouse when he’s not flying.

John Bone discovers Ukraine Air Rescue

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!

CLICK HERE —>Check out this cool news story about John and his departure from Florida <— CLICK HERE

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Loading up the cooler today for Johns flight. Photo is at Flugplatz Bonn/Hangelar
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!

Operation Backpack4Kids awarded 501.c.3 status!

Big…HUGE…News!!!

Operation BackPack4Kids has been awarded 501.c.3 status by the IRS! Being such a significant moment, there is much more to say. Stay tuned for a dedicated blogpost in the next few days!

July and August 2022 Update:

What’s new you ask… how about:

  • 3,517 backpacks delivered
  • €130,000 in critical medications delivered in our donated temperature controlled coolers
  • 20 infant transports made with the BabyPod
  • 402 backpacks delivered to refugee children in Poland last week
  • Over 3,000 hours of volunteer service given by our pilot group
BP4K organizational development:

Our official IRS 501(c)3 status journey has been a long and hard road to walk at times, but your money, donations, and time have paid off 10 fold. Like any organization of volunteers, people get tired and weary. Our team is no different. But we see the faces of the children we are helping and we find the energy to keep going. Our nonprofit is now in regular communications with other NGO’s in Europe, all working together when and where they can to provide humanitarian aid to those in need.

The Cologne Refugee Center:

The refugee center by the train station (called Breslauer Platz) is now under the control of the JohanniterGroup. This nonprofit organization is similar to the Salvation Army, but they have a focus and expertise in healthcare.

Rene Berg is the project manager and he and our staff have worked out an agreement to provide 20-30 backpacks per week to the refugee center. His staff is now responsible for transporting the bags from the Marriott.

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Rene outside the Hauptobanhof refugee center, July 2022
Thank you!

BP4K wants to personally thank one of our families for coming over to Germany and giving up 3 weeks of their summer to work on the backpack program. We had a wonderful time, and shipped out 402 backpacks to Poland last weekend.

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Cassandra is returning!!!

Cassandra will soon be back in Cologne to run the show. We will do one more big build to close out the summer and hopefully put us over 4,000 backpacks delivered.

What the future holds:

It’s difficult to comprehended Fall is around the corner. If the Ukraine struggle continues, the weather will bring a entirely new set of challenges for the children we support. Our focus will remain on helping displaced children through the challenges they face, when and where we can. We have a dedicated team of leaders and volunteers who will guide us through the next chapter of our work. We know that our efforts have paid off, the photos prove it.

Thank you to everyone who has given time, money, material goods. Without you, our work would have ended months ago.

It’s never too late to get involved…. Click here to help the refugee children 

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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.