AID boxes containing emergency supplies, including warm accessories such as gloves and scarves, toiletries, and games for children, are on their way from Dartmouth to Ukraine.
In a coordinated effort, headed up by local business manager Louise Thorpe, Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth Academy and Dartmouth Yacht club handed over boxes of aid last week to a charity heading off to the stricken country.
Mark Paine, of Ukraine Sunflower Aid, drove his van to Dartmouth and visited all three locations to fill up on donations. He was said to be “overwhelmed” by the town’s charitable spirit.
Dartmouth businesswoman Louise Thorpe said: “As we all watch the horrors in Ukraine unfold many of us feel powerless to help. I wanted to do something “practical” so, having met with Ukraine Sunflower Aid, it was soon apparent that shoe boxes, clearly labelled for a boy, girl, man or woman or even a pet – because small animals are also suffering - were vital. By providing individual packets of aid, it allows the charity to hand them out directly to individuals in the knowledge that they are appropriate and packed with essentials.
“The boxes are actually now on their way and Mark the driver is actually going right into Ukraine and not just to the borders.”
Louise Thorpe, who lives in Dartmouth and is managing director of Totnes company, Fielding Financial, coordinated the response.
She said: “I, like many people, have sat and watched in disbelief the human tragedy unfolding in Ukraine. I wanted to do something “practical” to help. Our students teamed up with the Ukraine Sunflower Aid charity, who distribute aid to those most in need from refugees right through to people living in the war-torn cities.”
Louise was keen to expand the response in Dartmouth so teamed up with Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth Academy and Dartmouth Yacht club.
She added: “When Mark Paine, from the Ukraine Sunflower Aid charity, visited the staff at BRNC last week the generosity was evident for all to see. The staff at the college were able to make many parcels of aid and were very happy to do so.”
Sophie Rennie, who co-ordinated the BRNC effort, said: “I’d like to thank all those who took part in creating these aid boxes and we all wish Mark and the convoy the best of luck”
Next, Mark visited Dartmouth Academy and once again was overwhelmed to receive a huge amount of boxes of essential aid.
Louise said: “It was amazing to see the children and teachers coming together to make a real difference. The children kindly volunteered to help load the parcels onto the van. It was just such a tremendous effort. It’s very clear the children of Dartmouth Academy have also been touched by the terrible scenes in Ukraine and each and every child who took part should be very proud of what they have achieved – they really are making a difference.
“All the boxes from Dartmouth Academy are going to a school which is housing displaced orphans. The Ukrainian school is now reaching out to us to make ties with Dartmouth Academy which is amazing. The pupils from Dartmouth will really be able to get first-hand knowledge of what their amazing donations mean to children their age.”
The last stop of the day was to Dartmouth Yacht Club where, once again, Louise said the generosity of members was evident to see.
Club Commodore Tim Vaughan said: “As part of the local community, Dartmouth Yacht Club members are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this fantastic scheme and really hope we can make a difference to some of those affected by this terrible crisis. Well done to all those involved for setting this up.”
Once the final box was loaded onto the van Mark Paine returned home to Paignton to prepare for his trip into Ukraine.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by people’s generosity,” said Louise. “I really believe these little packets of aid will give a small moment of joy to the receiver. I also hope, in some small way, they will show how much love and support there is for people who have found themselves in the middle of this humanitarian crisis through no fault of their own. I wish Mark and the team from the Ukraine Sunflower Aid charity success with their trips and hope they get in and out of the country safely.”