It’s been one entire year since Russia invaded Ukraine, escalating the war that began in 2014. Analysts estimate that roughly 200,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded, and Ukraine has seen about 100,000 killed or wounded troops, along with about 30,000 civilian deaths. Many more Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes and are struggling to survive within the country or fleeing to take refuge in neighboring nations. Experts are predicting that the war will not end in 2023 and that there is much more misery to come for the displaced people of Ukraine.
One year after the invasion began, Ukrainians are still in desperate need of our help. More than 8 million citizens fled their homes in search of sanctuary in other countries, and more than 6.5 million are displaced within their home country. Many lack access to shelter and warmth, water and food, hygiene supplies, and other basic necessities for life. Others are living in shelters, with friends or family, or with host families in crowded and less-than-ideal conditions. The situation is particularly detrimental to children, many of whom have experienced disruptions to their education and social lives and have gone through severe emotional trauma and anxiety.
The Current State of Ukraine
Our CEO and co-founder, Tim Kunin, along with others from our team, has traveled to Ukraine three times in the last year to help assess the need, contribute to the humanitarian efforts, and report back on how your generous donations are contributing to the wellbeing of the people of Ukraine. During his most recent trip, he says, he stayed in a bomb shelter for three nights, went without electricity at times, heard raid sirens on a regular basis, saw a cruise missile, and heard several explosions nearby.
Kunin recalls hearing from numerous displaced people living in cramped conditions with family and friends, sometimes without electricity and other amenities, as they wait for more safe housing to be available. Countless homes are no longer inhabitable. Many of the windows have been shattered and are now covered in plastic. Even entire rooms whose walls have been destroyed are covered in plastic to keep out the wind.
Kunin also says many of the people who originally fled as refugees have returned to be reunited with their families, meaning there is an even greater need than before for food and supplies in Ukraine.
Our Work So Far
GreaterGood and our non-profit partner, Greater Good Charities, are working hard to help as many people as we can stay fed, warm, and alive during these immensely difficult times. We’ve been working with Ukraine almost for the entire year that they’ve been defending their borders, and we don’t plan to stop for as long as people there need our assistance.
In the past year — with your help — GreaterGood has donated a total $1.3 million to the Ukrainian cause. We have distributed food and supplies to people in need in 100-plus locations in Ukraine and Poland, including 4 million hot meals. We’ve also contributed 35,000 Ukrainian-made wool blankets and 268 life-saving medical kits to areas that needed them. 1,200 toys have been donated to Ukrainian children in Poland and Ukraine, and more than $27 thousand went to fund the rescue and relocation of wildlife out of war-torn areas. We’ve even distributed 9.5 million pounds of nutritious kibble for hungry pets who’ve been caught up in this devastating war as well.
Our blanket project is one that we’re very proud of. GreaterGood has partnered with a blanket manufacturer in Kharkiv to produce warm wool blankets to be distributed to the people of Ukraine.
At the factory, raw wool from New Zealand, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia is washed, carded, spun into yarn, and then woven into blankets. Two different types of blankets are manufactured to be distributed to the Ukrainian people. The first is a heavy wool blend blanket, the type that’s used worldwide for refugees. The other is a lighter-weight wool blend blanket with fringe on the ends.
According to Kunin, the Russians have been hard at work attacking the Ukrainian infrastructure, including the electric lines. He and his teammates were without power at their hotel for about 10 hours in temperatures around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Many Ukrainians have dealt with the same issue for even longer periods in the dead of winter.
Purchasing blankets from a blanket manufacturer in Ukraine creates jobs and helps sustain the economy, costs little for transportation, and keeps thousands of Ukrainians warm. To date, we’ve purchased 35,000 of these blankets and distributed them in areas damaged by bombing, and we plan to continue this project in the future. These blankets will be useful for displaced people and those without power even in the summer, as the nights are often cold.
We’re also happy to partner with Siobhan’s Trust, a non-profit that has vans outfitted with pizza ovens that they bring to locations where hunger is an immediate issue. So far, we’ve purchased 300,000 personal-sized pizzas to be cooked in Siobhan’s Trust vans at various locations in Ukraine.
At each distribution location, the vans are set up, pizzas are taken out of their boxes and plastic wrappings and cooked in the van ovens and then tucked back into their boxes and given out to those lined up and waiting. Volunteers also offer coffee and juice and a listening ear to those waiting in line. During his latest visit to Ukraine, Tim Kunin witnessed a few of these events and helped cook the pizzas.
During the distributions, volunteers often dress up in costumes, dance around to the music playing in the background, talk to the people in line, involve the children as much as possible, and generally try to provide some entertainment for the people they’re helping.
The distribution events are like a window into what life was like before the war, as well as a glimpse of what life could be like again when it’s all over. “It’s just so much more than a hot meal,” Kunin says. “There’s real joy, and for some people, there hasn’t been a lot. And that part is what I think is so impactful about this model.”
We later received this message from Siobhan’s Trust: “Hi, wonderful people. Today marks one year since David first brought the Trust to the Ukrainian border. What a journey it’s been! We’re now running four simultaneous operations in West, East, and Southern Ukraine and in Antakya, Türkiye. Thank you all so much for your help along the way, and please come back soon – we have a lot of ovens to man and many smiles to make!”
Children are among those most affected by the war in Ukraine. So far, we’ve donated more than 1,200 toys to refugee children in Poland and displaced children in Ukraine. Our hope is to give them something to hold onto during tough times, a little friend to offer support and make them smile.
For those who are internally displaced, disabled, or have close relatives in the armed forces, GreaterGood provides an aid kit to help keep them fed, healthy, and warm. The box includes hygiene products and staple foods like cooking oil, flour, rice, etcetera — about a month’s worth of food for two people. Two blankets are also included with this kit. We’ve distributed more than 2,000 of these winter relief kits so far.
GreaterGood also supplies Good Packs to those in need. The packs each contain a backpack to hold supplies and possessions, a hygiene kit, a reusable water bottle, a t-shirt, socks, and a blanket. More than 2,000 of these bags are now in the hands of Ukrainians.
Last but not least, 268 life-saving medical kits have made it to medical personnel on the front to help injured people get the healthcare they need.
Pets and Wildlife
It’s common for animals to be forgotten during disasters like this one. But that doesn’t mean they don’t also need help. There are not only thousands of pets in the war-torn area but also a great deal of wildlife and even some zoo animals who need help escaping the bombing and finding a new place to live.
Since the invasion began, GreaterGood has spent more than $27 thousand to help relocate wildlife and exotic animals to safer locations, outside of the range of the fighting. We’ve also provided over 2.2 million meals for the pets of displaced people and donated supplies to animal clinics and shelters.
We Still Need Your Help
While we’ve done a lot to help the people of Ukraine with the assistance of our donors, the need is still as pressing today as it was on day one. We’re still hoping we can count on your support to continue making an impact where it’s most needed.
“In some of these towns we’re working at, we are the only people who have been there,” says Kunin.
We want the people of Ukraine to know that they’re seen and that we care about them. Every person in need should be able to get some assistance, and we will continue creating stability for those who are currently in very volatile situations. To continue to provide aid where it’s needed, we need your help.
Donate now to provide aid to people and pets in need in Ukraine!