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.
So everyday, thousands of Ukrainian refugees are making their way across Europe. Some of them have friends or contacts in Europe who are willing to help out, while many others are just along for the ride to where ever life takes them. Many of these refugees are children.
These are photos from Poland. You can see many young kids traveling with all types of luggage and plastic bags. Families literally left with whatever they could grab and flee with. Many of these refugees will end up in Germany.
A family waits with their belongings. Notice the child sleeping on a suitcase.
As you can see there are so many refugees trying to board trains to Western Europe, they have stand in line until there is room on a train.
Many refugees are traveling with plastic bags. They didn’t have luggage.
A young Ukarianian mother and young child. She came across the border with nothing. Her husband who stayed to fight, arranged for her to leave in an Army truck to get her away from the shelling. She rode in the back with the baby for 3 hours at night in the cold. And that was only the beginning of her journey.
Those that had suitcases, well you can see they don’t hold up so well.
So this is why we are doing Operation BackPack4Kids. They need our help, and although the mountain seems impossible to climb, we will put one foot in front of the other and help as many kids as possible.