Local donations will help Ukrainians survive the winter
Donations of warm gear for the Ukraine may be dropped off at Angelic Enterprises Consignments, located on Hwy. 34 in Park Rapids, Dec. 23 and Dec. 26-28.
As temperatures plummet, many people in Ukraine are enduring the cold winter months without power to heat their homes.
Many of those who had to relocate during bombings also lack adequate winter clothing because theirs was left behind as they fled to safety.
Dave Leckie, a long-time resident of Park Rapids and Nevis who now lives in Bemidji, wants to change that.
When he saw a Facebook post about Air Force veteran Mark Lindquist’s 20-day sleepout in Fargo in this extreme cold to raise awareness and support for Ukranians through “Operation Sleepout,” he decided to step up to help.
“I’m like a lot of people who find the news of what is happening in Ukraine hard to watch, with the constant destruction of people’s lives and seeing women and children running and screaming as they leave homes that are being blown up,” Leckie said. “It’s easy to just turn away after and feel like we can’t make a difference. I thought if this guy can sleep out at 50-below zero wind chills in a tent in Fargo, even though I’m on crutches right now I’m warm. I decided I needed to make some phone calls, get clothing donations and be the transportation part of this thing.”
Leckie reached out to Lindquist, who told him the conditions he’s seen firsthand in Ukraine - people who have fled their homes and now don’t even have a coat to keep warm and entire villages who will be without power during the cold winter months following the bombing of power plants.
“I think if people cleaned out their closets of stuff they haven’t used, the cumulative effect of that could be a very big deal,” Leckie said. “We could collect enough to keep a village of 700 or 800 people warm for the winter.”
A ‘gift of life’
Leckie hauled a load of donations from Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes to Fargo this week and will be bringing more next week.
“Mark told me that our hand-me-downs can make the difference between life and death over there.” he said. “There are people in rural areas who won’t have heat all winter. They are sitting there freezing to death. ”
Donations of warm gear for the Ukraine may be dropped off at Angelic Enterprises Consignments, located on Hwy. 34 in Park Rapids, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. through Wednesday, Dec. 28. The store will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Leckie plans to pick up donations Thursday and haul them to Fargo. Donations will then be flown to Ukraine in January.
“I may do another clothing drive in January for a February shipment but that’s still in the planning stages,” he said.
Any church or other organization collecting winter gear may text Leckie at 612-554-4804 to arrange pickup. Volunteers willing to help pick up, wash, repair or haul clothing to Fargo are also needed.
Snowmobile suits, boots, thermal underclothing, warm coats, snow pants, camouflage hunting gear, gloves, wool sweaters and socks, ponchos, mittens, gloves, scarves, face masks, gaiters, fleece blankets, disposable hand and foot warmers for those fighting in the trenches are all welcome. All sizes from infants through adults will be given to people in need.
“Anything that will keep people warm in the extreme cold is needed,” he said. “It will be compressed, shrink wrapped in big pallets and sent over directly to the people who need it.”
“It’s a gift of stuff, that if we think about it, we have anyway and a lot of times it’s just sitting in a closet. It’s a gift of life. What else can we give this Christmas that will mean so much? Just throw the stuff in a bag and drop it off so other people can live. And share the story on social media to let other people know how they can help.”
Donations to help with the shipping costs may be made by clicking on the Ukrainian flag on Lindquist’s page markjlindquist.com or by mailing a check to: The A-Team: Ukraine, 3120 25th St. South, Unit 160, Fargo, ND, 58103.
Americold in Park Rapids, which ships Lamb Weston/RDO products, will be sending a truckload of used freezer gear to Ukraine.
Americold’s office worker Zelda Kurth is a Facebook friend of Leckie. When she saw his post about collecting donations of warm clothing, she immediately thought of the storage room full of used freezer gear.
The jackets and bibs are heavy-duty freezer gear rated to 60-degrees-below zero, similar to what is worn for ice fishing.
“Our general manager, Jeff Wessel, said it was a great idea to donate the used gear to the cause,” she said. “We have over 50 employees, and I’m also going to ask them to bring in any warm gear they have to donate.”