Websters Dictionary describes the word “caring” as; feeling or showing concern for or kindness to others. The following photos demonstrate the word in action.
One, five, or twenty people cannot move 300 backpacks full of essential supplies for refugee children in 10 days, and raise enough money to purchase and build another 1,000. We now have people involved with this project with Law Degrees, humanitarian crisis experience, tech backgrounds, nonprofit management experience. And they are all willing to step up and work to insure we stay focused on providing backpacks to refugee children, and we do it with prudence and accountability.
The refugee crisis now unfolding in Europe has galvanized people with caring hearts to do something, anything… to try and help. From the beginning, that has been the only mission for Operation BackPack4Kids. And we are doing something that is beyond words. The IPA pilots are showing the world that we care.
IPA Pilots loading up the bags and taking them to the Red Cross refugee center…
This mother fled Kyiv 3 days ago with her younger son. Her husband and her 18 year son stayed behind to fight. She was thankful for the supplies, and she couldn’t believe the ‘Americans’ cared like this.
IPA Pilots with giant hearts passing out candy and showing the children that people around the world, do actually care about them.
IPA Pilots hard at work volunteering with the Cologne Firefighters to bring meals into the refugee center.
Big shout out to American Airlines SDF for not charging shipping on bags! Our pilot told the agent what we are doing, and her response was… “those bags fly for free”.
Our trip to Poland is over, but I have a feeling some of our backpacks will find their way here again, 😎
Here are a few more photos. Keep in mind, these children just fled a war zone within a day or two, and YOU are making a direct impact on their lives for the good.
NGOs and grassroots organizations like ours hit the ground running. They make assessments of what is needed that the larger government agencies can’t do, and they plug into the system and begin working. The bearded guy works for some American IT company, and is putting equipment in the train station to give the refugees internet access. The station wifi system is overloaded. The guy next to him is from Belgium and is coordinating 12 buses a day that transport refugees back to Belgium. Like the doctor we met from John Hopkins, people are just doing what needs to be done. Second photo is Polish ladies who set up their own soup kitchen in the station to feed anyone who’s hungry.
Grassroots efforts like this can have lightning fast results when volunteers utilize all available tools to make things happen. We passed out 20 bags in Krakow, Poland yesterday, and it was a Penny in a lake. So we mobilized the NGO’s working in the train station and within hours, we had transportation and supply stores lined up, an assembly area, and volunteers ready to work. The money you donated procured 97 more backpacks with all the supplies. We came here to prove a point… we have the ability to deliver these backpacks. Although this might be the only trip we can make to Poland for a while, we made this one count.
The sweet old grandmother in the next photo is 86 years old. Her daughter said she gets nervous now inside a building and would I stand with her while she went back inside the Red Cross. Neither of us could understand each other, but she grabbed my hand and held it tight and put her head on my shoulder. Needless to say I cried a lot yesterday.
A Polish American doctor from John Hopkins told us she couldn’t witness anymore suffering, so she jumped on a plane with no plan, but we exchanged numbers. Now she’s running the Red Cross clinic 3… she texted last night and said… I need those bags, but can you get me 25 for mothers with small babies? Without saying we don’t have those, We knew that we could put something together.
Loading the last 5 mother bags complete with EVERYTHING a mom needs for a baby to last 7 days, food included in the van.
The train station in Krakow is a meltdown, so many people wondering around, so much pain and suffering in the eyes of these mothers, but I hope everyone knows that this operation is working, and we are helping kids. Well over 300 bags have been handed out now.
Her name is Elena. She and her cousin escaped Kviv with her mother. Her father is fighting. She could not believe that America would send her a bag of things.
His name is Vadim. He and his mother and grandfather escaped Chernihiv. As we we turned to leave he came from behind and grabbed me. His tears made me know we are doing the right thing. (The pilot with me in this photo refuses to give his name! Another awesome volunteer who texted and said can I help).
Thank you to everyone making this happen. It’s a miracle that you all have put into action.
Tonight at approx 2042L, First Officer and former Army Golden Knight (Paratrooper) Trevor McCarthy and myself had the honor to deliver backpacks to children. They were handed over to the German emergency services and Red Cross, and within minutes went to the kids at the refugee staging area.
Words cannot explain the overwhelming emotions I have right now. Demonstrating what huge hearts this proud group of pilots have… is on spotlight right now.
Side note, the Marriott General Manager has asked his employees to help donate… and they are 100% with us as Operation BackPack4kids is live!
1. The outpouring support for this project has been phenomenal. To date the operation has close to 400 backpacks in various stages of transport. Our supply room is filling up at the Marriott, and Wednesday evening, distribution will begin. From inception to actually putting these backpacks into the hands of needy children…. Seven days!! Job well done, everyone can see what a tremendous effort has been made so far by this amazing pilot group.
2. Coordinators are assessing the number of backpacks on hand, and how many can be move into CGN on a timely manner. Because this humanitarian crisis is not going away anytime soon the need will be great for many weeks to come. So do not feel discouraged if your bag has to be stored for a time before we can move it – it will get to Europe and it will get to a child. If you have a bag ready for shipment, email firstname.lastname@example.org
3. The Salvation Army continues to be our main partner because they have their emergency services set up all throughout Europe. They are very excited about receiving these backpacks for distribution. The operation is making contact with their people in Europe, and putting the logistical steps in motion to give them the backpacks.
4. We have raised over $15,000 towards building backpacks and we expect that number to grow daily. Thank you to everyone who has provided this money. The coordinators are researching the best bang for the buck on how to build additional backpacks with these funds. Again, it cannot be overstated what a strong start we have. There will always be hurdles to anything “worthy”, but it is always worth the climb.
Did you know we have a legit, awesome country music singer/songwriter in our group? Brian Wright, 747 FO is the real singing deal!!! He’s donating 100% of all his music profits while we run Operation BackPack4 Kids
Enjoy some great country tunes and help a refugee at the same time. Thank you Brian, you sir are a Rockabilly Star.
Chris B., with the German Army has been taking supplies to Poland for the Red Cross. Here are some photos he sent from Krakow. The Polish are overwhelmed, they have no more room to house anymore refugees. I know these photos are hard to see, but this is why we have to do this. Many will continue on, and the next stop is…. You guessed it, Germany.
A Polish grandmother and mother try to rest on the floor of the train station with their family.
The train station, refugees sit against the wall
A small Ukraine girl smiling after receiving a blanket and some chocolate. (NOTE: she fled with her family with only her pajamas and boots. Nothing else)
Refugees go through donated items to use. (NOTE: many of them have no luggage or bags, they are using plastic shopping bags to carry their belongings)
Refugees receiving food and drinks from a makeshift canteen inside the train station.
1. The Salvation Army has partnered with us! The Louisville Area Command is going to allow us to set up a ‘build the backpacks’ day and assemble backpacks using the money being donated. You will also be able to drop off your backpacks as well. The date is being discussed now. Depending on how many backpacks we receive, it is possible we can share some with the Salvation Army (Germany) and distribute them in other areas.
2. Donations are pouring in, and dozens and dozens of our pilots have stepped up to volunteer. Each morning (early!!) we will walk up 20 or so backpacks and see how the day unfolds. As I have said, the situation is very fluid, but the refugees are increasing in numbers each day.
3. Many people have asked about bringing candy or snacks over. The answer is YES! Halloween size candy would the be best, and chocolate would be preferable. Unfortunately many of the smaller kids have poor dental hygiene, and hard candy is not a good option for their teeth.
I will never be able to thank everyone enough for what is happening here. A need was identified, and the IPA pilots responded. It is just that simple. What an amazing group.