Ukraine: Halifax aid efforts see over 150 volunteers pack boxes destined for Polish border

Like so many fundraisers, it began small.

Halifax’s aid efforts to help besieged Ukrainians began as a collection at a home on Swales Moor Road.

But as dozens of cars queued to donate bags of clothes, toiletries and food - and dozens more put themselves forward to volunteer sorting it all - it quickly became clear that a bigger space was needed.

What started as a small operation swelled to become something extraordinary when the owners of the town’s Dean Clough Mills stepped in to donate swathes of floor space for aid collection.

A call out for volunteers to help sort bags and boxes of items - donated by the community and by businesses - has seen more than 150 people converge on the warehouse to play their part in collecting an estimated eight tons of aid.

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Michael Dean, part of the organising committee, is a third generation Ukrainian. He said: “We’re going to have five wagons, and we’ve had over 100 people today to come to volunteer.

“We’ve had people come from Settle, York, Leeds. Everyone that has come has been brilliant, there’s been no slackers and everyone’s getting on, pulling their weight and doing what they can.

A call out for volunteers to help sort bags and boxes of items - donated by the community and by businesses - has seen more than 150 people converge on the warehouse to play their part in collecting an estimated eight tons of aid.

“I’m getting two or three hours’ sleep at night. We don’t want to mess this up - people need what we’re doing.

“It’s humbling. The community spirit is incredible.”

The spirit of the community has shone with volunteers telling of finding handwritten notes to Ukrainians in their donations, in some cases by children who have given up their toys.

But alongside the boxes of clothes, toys and toiletries, a small room has been designated for the collection of sombre items that bring home the scale of the conflict.

Bulletproof vests sat in a neat pile, next to a box of helmets and torch headlights and a collection of crutches and stretchers for people injured while fleeing violence.

Destined for civilians, not soldiers, who have told organisers they feel they need armoured vests, they serve as a stark reminder of the danger millions of Ukrainians are now experiencing as daily reality.

“Effectively, this is war work,” said Jeremy Conway, a 58-year-old retired IT consultant who turned up yesterday to volunteer.

“I just saw the request on Facebook asking people to come along, and I’m just astounded by the amount of goodwill there is.

“I’ve been making boxes up - there’s three of us calling ourselves Tape That.

“It’s difficult to get your head around.

“Who would have thought in the 21st century we’d be doing this?

“But I’d rather be doing something than nothing.

“It’s better to be busy and feeling like you’re making a difference.”

It’s a sentiment shared by the 150 others who have found themselves, in the space of a few days, experts in logistics.

“I was a bit nervous to start with,” said stay-at-home mother Alex Cooper, 29. “But I’ve just picked it up.

“Now I’m a supervisor, and we’ve just found a strategy.

“I just imagine how I’d feel in that position. As a single mum with three children, I’d be scared. If I can do anything to help anybody, then I will.”