Rotarians from Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, along with their District 2050 counterparts in B.C. and northwest Washington, raised $74,000 through a massive summer campaign to buy seven vans to distribute supplies to the war-torn country.
This week, the money is being transferred to a Rotary Club in Germany, where a member that owns a vehicle dealership will purchase and transport them 500 km to the Polish-Ukrainian border.
"It's been quite an international cooperation, it's happened very quickly," said Ron Warneboldt, now former president of the Rotary Club of Coquitlam.
Small vans 'safer' to transport aid
According to Warneboldt, the call was made by Dimitry, a member of the Rotary Club in Kyiv to Bernie Pregler, past district governor and honorary Rotarian, who helped organize the "Last Mile" humanitarian aid project.
Dimitry, a math teacher, said distributing food and medical supplies that were stuck in Ukrainian warehouses was difficult due to larger trucks being the target of missile strikes.
He said smaller vans were less of a target, but they are scarce in the war-torn country.
His original request was for $30,000 for four vans, which Warneboldt said was a big ask considering it was summer and fundraising is a big job at the best of times.
But local Rotarians dug deep and raised more than the requested sum.
"The idea was circulated to our board who immediately approved the project, made a donation of $5,000 and organized a fundraising campaign," said Warneboldt, who was president of the Rotary Club of Coquitlam during the fundraising efforts.
Ukraine aid donations pour in
Thanks to significant support from District 5050, generous donations from 11 different clubs and sizeable contributions from 14 different individual donors, the local Rotarians were able to wire transfer an "amazing" $74,000 CDN to their partners in Germany, said Warneboldt.
The Rotary Clubs who have donated so far (listed in order the donations were received) include the Rotary Clubs of Coquitlam, Fidalgo Islands, Aldergrove, Mission Sunrise, Semiahmoo and Port Coquitlam.
The PoCo Lions and Kinsmen also pitched in $3,000 with an Elvis/Rod Stewart impersonator and dance.
Coquitlam Sunrise, Port Moody, White Rock, Anacortes, and South Everett Mukilteo also contributed to the fundraising effort.
That Rotary Club of Oberstdorf will now be purchasing seven vans and transporting them to the Ukraine border where they will be turned over to members of the Rotary Club of Ukraine.
Here's how you can support Rotary fundraiser
However, the Last Mile fundraiser will continue until the end of August in the hopes of raising money for more vans.
"The project resonated with people," said Warneboldt in explaining the huge response.
Donations may be sent by e-transfer to the club treasurer using: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donations over $20 can receive a charitable tax receipt if requested, and if one is requested donors should include their legal names, email addresses and postal mail address.
Efforts by Rotary International to provide aid to the people of Ukraine is also continuing as the war in Ukraine enters its seventh month.