An Edmonton man is set to head to Ukraine this week, for the fifth time, to deliver donations collected here in the city.
Dave Bryenton, a volunteer with the effort organized by Edmonton’s Battle Rattle Tactical Supplies, says he started out helping to collect for the drive but then quickly realized he could help by getting supplies right in the hands of those who need them.
“I went from just the idea, to helping, to I’ve actually been over to Ukraine four times,” Bryenton said. “Three to the Polish border and once actually in the country. I delivered something very important and actually went in-country for a couple days to get to two specific locations where things needed to be.”
He is heading back to the war-torn country on Wednesday.
“I’ve developed some relationships where there’s a level of trust,” he said. “We can bring more and more, and more pertinent items to Ukraine that (are) desperately needed in the field.”
Bryenton said that he stays in the western areas of Ukraine, away from where the main conflicts are currently occurring in the east and south regions of the country.
Two volunteers who were working to deliver donations collected in Edmonton were killed in southeastern Ukraine in late April. Bryenton said despite the risk, he and other volunteers don’t intend on backing off on deliveries.
“(Those volunteers) lost their lives in service … it is a risk,” he said.
“This is what we do. That incident weighed very heavily on my mind. But now is not the time to sit and reflect, the war is ongoing, it is all happening right now. So maybe at a later point I will take more time out, but for now I feel I must be a man of action.
“The people of Ukraine are incredibly brave.”
The majority of the supplies — much of which are medical and protective gear — were collected from Edmonton individuals and businesses. But Bryenton said some has also come from Saskatoon and Prince George.
“There is a whole group of people that are necessary to put this whole project together” he said. “We’re not a charitable organization. But we continue to get like-minded people that are out here to try to help Ukraine.
“One of the reasons I do go directly into Ukraine is because I need to make sure when it’s this much money, that these products get into the hands of the people it’s meant to get to.”
Bryenton said he plans to bring up to 30 bags with him — which each cost $225 to check on the plane. He is collecting money to help offset the costs through a GoFundMe campaign.
“The war is not over,” Bryenton said. “I know it’s on the news every day. But please keep up your efforts. Everybody, please keep up your efforts. I know what we’re doing does make a difference.
“In these bags, there is military and protective equipment. But more than anything in these bags, there is hope.”
Supplies can still be purchased at Battle Rattle Tactical Supplies at 12839 97 Street Northwest to be donated to the people of Ukraine.
“We all stand behind the people of Ukraine,” Bryenton said. “And that hope is critical to those people. They are overjoyed when they see us supporting Ukraine.”
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