A massive response is underway to support the people of Ukraine, including the efforts of a Port Coquitlam veteran who gathered medical equipment and supplies from the city of Port Coquitlam for frontline soldiers and evacuated refugees.
Port Coquitlam and Kiev, Ukraine are thousands of miles apart, but the ties are strong.
Whether it’s watching television coverage or trying to find ways to help refugees fleeing the war-torn country or supporting those resisting invasion, many Tri-City residents are keenly interested in the events in this Eastern European country.
But a man, whose wife is of Ukrainian descent, has decided to step in to help – and the city of Port Coquitlam is answering the call as well.
Andrew Richards, an 18-year-old Canadian Army veteran who served as a peacekeeper in Bosnia, just delivered several boxes of supplies, including blankets, stretchers, bandages, gauze pads, bandages and first aid kits, to a warehouse in Burnaby for shipment to Ukraine.
They were all donated by the PoCo Fire and Emergency Service and are destined for Lviv in western Ukraine for use by sick and injured soldiers and refugees.
Richards said these critical medical supplies are much needed and he is grateful the City of Port Coquitlam was able to help.
Richards said he learned via a Global TV Storey on the efforts of a Vancouver real estate agent, Olga Zarudina, to gather supplies for her former country. He contacted her to see what he could do to help her.
The Canadian border guard who lives with his wife – a global domestic producer – and their two young children in PoCo, said his years in the military taught him what was needed in Ukraine, where homes are being bombed , creating the largest number of European refugees. movement since World War II.
MEDICAL SUPPLIES AND TRAUMA KITS FOR DELIVERY TO UKRAINE
Already, the first shipment of 200 kilograms of military and medical supplies has been sent to Ukraine via Vienna and Richards said the contributions from Port Coquitlam will be delivered in a later shipment.
He said he contacted the city’s mayor, Brad West, and made sure the city would help.
“The next day I got a phone call from the fire chief (Robert Kipps), and they said ‘we’re preparing stuff. We’ll let you know when to pick it up. So yeah, it all happened pretty quickly.”
For Richards, the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine is hard to watch, but he and his wife keep abreast of what is happening.
“It’s like a lot of people, I think, you know, it hits close to home,” said Richards, who said his wife still has family in Ukraine.
Mayor Brad West said the donations are a small gesture of support for the people of Ukraine.
Big hugs to the mayor @BradWestPoCo and the #PoCoFire department for their generous donation of first aid and trauma supplies for #Ukraine Very appreciated! 🇨🇦 🤝 🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine️ @ukrcancongress @Ukraine @CityofPoCo #UkraineUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/9yERbiaIVA
— 🇨🇦 Andrew 🙏 🇺🇦 (@andyoldstock) March 10, 2022
IMAGES OF WAR IN UKRAINE ARE ‘DEVASTATING’, SAYS MAYOR
“It’s the least we can do. The images of devastated cities, destroyed children’s and maternity hospitals and hundreds of Ukrainians killed are heartbreaking,” West told the newspaper. Tri-City News.
“At the same time, it was inspiring to see the bravery and courage of Ukrainians fighting to save their country from a completely unwarranted invasion.”
The community has a large Ukrainian population, he noted, which further strengthens ties between Canada and Ukraine.
Richards, meanwhile, plans to use his contacts to gather more supplies and help volunteers at the South Burnaby warehouse sort through items.
For him, the war in Ukraine is unprecedented in modern times and it is something he feels he must do.
“That doesn’t usually happen in Europe. Does it?” said Richards. “It’s kind of the scale of it… There are a lot of vulnerable people who will need a lot of help.”