Winnipeg’s Ukrainian community collecting tactical gear, medical supplies for civilians defending against Russia

Anna Karpenko said she felt helpless watching from Winnipeg as her home country defended itself against Russia’s invasion.

“My mornings start with me texting my family and asking them ‘are you still there? Are you alive?’” said Karpenko, a volunteer with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in Manitoba.

She decided to take action, organizing a volunteer effort to collect tactical gear, medical supplies and other goods for Ukrainian civilians defending their homeland from the attack.

Karpenko was born in Ukraine and immigrated to Winnipeg in 2015 where she’s lived ever since.

“Hearing those cries for help, I just felt that I needed to do something. I just thought we’d send five, six parcels but no – it’s a hundred parcels already. It’s incredible,” she said.

According to Karpenko, people have donated approximately 100, 30 kilogram boxes worth of supplies for civilians who have formed territorial defence units within cities in Ukraine.

They’re looking for items such as drones, two-way radios, tactical gloves, glasses and knee pads. Thermal underwear, solar-powered charging units and flashlights are also among the items volunteers are collecting.

The group also wants to send medical supplies such as gauze, bandages in rolls, anti-burn gel, painkillers and first aid kits.

The civilian units in Ukraine are working to help defend cities and treat people injured in air strikes, she said.

“The whole Ukraine now stands as a united front and we’re trying to help them,” Karpenko said.

The group is packing up the supplies they’ve collected so far and shipping them to Toronto. From there, Karpenko said a freight company volunteered to get the supplies to Ukraine free of charge.

She said they plan to collect more supplies to send next week.

The group is collecting donations Tuesday between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at 935 Main St.

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