Our Ukrainian partners, who have helped deliver numerous backpacks of ours in Poland and Ukraine (in addition to their own humanitarian efforts), have pushed even deeper, even closer to the front lines in Ukraine. Only 30 miles outside of Mariupol, where some of the most intense fighting is taking place, these people with big hearts risked their lives to deliver the aid you provided – a dozen of your backpacks to Ukrainian refugee kids who need them!
I asked them the following question: “Why is it so important that you deliver these backpacks? Shouldn’t you just take food and medical supplies?” Their answer dropped me to my knees:
“We don’t know you, and you don’t know us. We are fighting for our country and many Ukrainians have died. We know that many more will die soon. We see and hear things about countries that support us [lighting up buildings, flying the Ukrainian flag, etc.], but no one has sent backpacks for our children. Americans are truly crazy people when they do this. And we ask why, but we feel that they care about our situation here. When parents and children see this with their hands, they believe America is a good place.”
There is nothing more to say…. Here are the photos.
– William Vaughan, Executive Director of Global Operations, BP4K
Our first FedEx shipment of backpacks has arrived in Cologne, cleared customs, and has been delivered to the RedCross warehouse.
From humble beginnings with just an idea to help these suffering children anyway possible… Operation BackPack4Kids has transformed into a Global operating NonProfit Corporation in less than sixty days! And we haven’t even scratched the surface of what is possible. When people like you, open up your hearts, time, resources, and wallets… BIG things can happen.
In those first few days the questions were asked, “how can you do this and make it happen? The odds are against you, you aren’t a 501c3, and you have no corporate partners.” ….
Not only did YOU make it happen, you did it in grand style. And the odds? We didn’t beat them, we crushed them!
Our partnership with NGO groups continues to grow through our networking skills on the ground. A small, but much needed shipment of humanitarian aid arrived this morning in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. Some of the heaviest fighting yet is taking place there. We were lucky enough to have 14 backpacks delivered deep into the Ukraine where families are fleeing for their lives. These shipments are dangerous for the men taking them, but we are grateful for their courage and desire to help the needy.
We will continue our mission to supply our backpacks to children throughout Europe who have been displaced and we won’t stop as long as we receive the money and donations to make this happen.
With bags flowing to refugees daily, keeping our backpack building supplies in stock can be a challenge. On Wednesday, April 20th, 2022, Cassandra Zelesnikar, OB4K CGN operations manager, FedEx pilot Matt Corey, and IPA 747 pilot Andre Fairbanks hit the streets of Cologne, Germany looking for supplies.
Ikea is always a gold mine for us. Finding large numbers of small sized stuffed animals and water bottles can be difficult but Ikea always seems to have some for us.
With a truck load of supplies the team headed back to our operations center at the Marriott Cologne to unload and restock our shelves. Backpacks will be built over the next few days using these supplies as we also prepare for the arrival of our first shipment of backpacks from Louisville, KY.
We must thank the Marriott Cologne once again as none of this could be possible or economical without their generosity.
OB4K volunteers met at Bowman Field (airport) in Louisville, KY on Wednesday to prepare around 1,000 backpacks for shipment to Germany utilizing our FedEx partners. Your backpacks were organized according to age groups and packed tightly into prefabricated shipping boxes. These boxes were completely filled then sealed with an industrial-grade celophane wrap before being transported to FedEx for air delivery. The bags take off on April 21, 2022 and will be in the hands of refugee children shortly after. This is your work, your donations, your support!
Stay tuned as we follow these bags on the rest of their journey…
There have been many volunteers working countless hours behind the scenes to make Operation BackPack4Kids a professionally organized nonprofit. We wish to thank each and every one of them!
We are rapidly approaching handing out backpack number 1,000. That’s correct, number 1,000. The bag has already been delivered to CGN, and has been identified. Standby for a photo, it will happen this week.
Cassandra Z. showed up and just absolutely took the ball and ran off with it! Just like Stacie Bie, Monica, Tom Livesey, and many others, Cassandra has a heart of gold and a desire to help as many of these kids as she can.
A mother asked today if there was any milk in the center for her child. They hadn’t drank any milk in weeks. The Cologne RedCross facility is very nice, and staffed with wonderful volunteers. But its big, and sometimes bureaucratic. They can only offer what they have. This is where small nonprofits like us fill the void. Because we are there, and we raised money to help these children… we bought the milk! It might not seem like much, but remember these refugees are staying in local motels and hostels, and they have no money to purchase things like milk. They are eating their meals in the refugee center. To them, milk is a luxury right now. Well, as of today, the Ukrainian children have fresh, cold milk in the refrigerator whenever they want a glass.
Please continue to spread the word and tell your coworkers about BackPack4Kids. Many pilots have no knowledge about our endeavor.
Thank you to everyone who responds with generosity and kindness to request for supplies. Either buying them, or bringing them to Germany, your actions fuel the operation in Cologne.
Do you like country music? Buy Brian Wrights music RIGHT HERE and donate money to Operation Backpack4kids!
Until our next update, have a great week and thank you again to everyone who is making this project work. If you transit CGN, and would like to volunteer, just ask! The children at the refugee center love to see the ‘American pilots’ and practice their English.
Exciting news!!! OB4K is incorporated in the state of Kentucky for the sole purpose of seeking 501 (c)(3) status with the IRS. We would like to acknowledge and thank Liesl Carter for spearheading and coordinating our legal efforts, without her we would not be this far ahead in the ballgame.
ARTICLE II: PURPOSE
Section 2.1: Overview
Said corporation is organized exclusively for educational and charitable purposes, including for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
The mission of Operation Backpack4Kids is to rapidly provide necessity and comfort items to children in need around the globe who have been displaced by conflict, crisis, or natural disaster.
Founded with the idea that small acts of kindness can make a big impact in an individual’s life, Operation Backpack4Kids aims to be an act of kindness force multiplier during times of crisis, specifically facilitating the procurement, construction, and distribution of relief backpacks and other necessities for kids caught in these moments.
Click here for more information (as it becomes available),
We are getting ready to have our first official shipment later this week! Louisville and neighboring area residents: If you have any backpacks that you would like shipped, please have them to Dave Schmitz’s hangar no later than April 20th! We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your support!
There are people working behind the scenes to make this happen. To those people and everyone that has helped even if for an hour, we want you to know that we appreciate you. This effort could not have been this successful if it wasn’t for ALL of you and your time. ❤️❤️❤️
Allow us to introduce Cassandra Zelesnikar, who just arrived in Köln. Cassandra will be the Cologne ground operations manager for the next few weeks.
Here she is getting bags ready for shipment to Poland.
She has wasted no time learning the ropes, meeting the people, and getting the lay of the land. She’s here, working our (your) project on her own. And for that we are extremely grateful. Operation BackPack4Kids is not complicated, but it has 100 different moving parts, and the parts change ever so slightly each day. To effectively manage the ground operation here in Köln, you have to be quick on your feet and think fast. Cassandra is doing that. So please take a moment when you see her at the Marriott to tell her thank you (and or buy her a dinner!) and see if she needs any help that day. Without hundreds of volunteers and donors like Cassandra and you… we would have never gotten off the ground.
From Cassandra in CGN:
If anyone could do a dollar store run and bring a big load of those break apart Easter eggs by Saturday night so we could have an Easter egg hunt for the kids on Sunday. I can’t find any [here in Germany]. Please email email@example.com if you are able to help.
We are at 937 bags delivered, inching ever closer to that magic number 1,000
The paperwork is signed and will be filed soon. BackPack4Kids will be officially incorporated in Kentucky
COMING SOON: an exciting announcement about a private donor who is matching $10,000 in donation’s!!!
360 FUNDLY donors, over $60,000 raised
Volunteer opportunities exist, let Bill Vaughan know if you are interested.