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A busy first week in Ukraine!

I had originally intended to make a daily post on this blog page, but then reality set in! As usual on these trips, we're on the road from early in the morning, and usually get back to the hotel, tired and hungry, around 8 PM every evening. By the time we grab a bite to eat, return emails, etc., it's almost time for bed. So, our apologies for not posting as often as we'd like, but we do usually try to squeeze in at least a Facebook post before the end of the day (

As we headed east from Poland, we started the trip with 2 aid drops in the

Destruction in Balakliya

area (going east-west, Kyiv is pretty close to the middle of the country). The first was to our good friend Andriy and Olena in Tarascha, about 1.5 hours south of Kyiv. We've made 3 drops there over our previous trips, so it was so great to spend a little time with them catching up. They store refugee aid at their house, then repackage it and distribute it to displaced Ukrainians living in their town.

The second drop was in Kyiv itself, to an orphanage. They were all set for food, but they didn't have the money to purchase art supplies for the kids there. Apparently, it's great therapy for the kids, so we set out to find good prices for all sorts of paints, inexpensive canvasses, and a lot of other art-related items. We delivered 7 large bags of it before filling our large van to the brim with aid collected by another organization, heading east to Kharkiv to deliver it.

Kharkiv has almost become a home away from home. We've now been here for 5 nights, and every day has been a challenging adventure. On the second night here, we heard 4 loud missile explosions, 2 of them not far from our hotel. It's a very distinct and unmistakable sound, and definitely unsettling to say the least. But, hundreds of thousands of people have been living with it for over a year now, so we always figure we can endure it for a week or two.

We've since done large deliveries to towns of Volokhiv Yar, Balaklia, Borshchivka and Shevchenkove.

On the trips to these locations, which were all under Russian occupation earlier in the war, we've seen incredible destruction incurred by the Russian presence, including schools burned down intentionally by the departing Russian troops and infrastructure destroyed out of pure vengeance. We've heard stories of amazing resilience and heroism by local residents who risked (and sometimes suffered) torture by the Russians for simply helping their fellow residents escape as the Russians invaded.

Tomorrow, we're dropping off some aid on the way to visit a group of soldiers in Lyman. We'll have a military escort to get us into the area, as there are numerous strict checkpoints as you approach the area, each requiring a different password and ID to get through. The soldiers are eager to show us their equipment and how they operate, so it should be quite the adventure!

Fundraising for this trip has been a challenge so far, to say the least. Unlike past trips, we haven't had many donations since we landed here over a week ago. If you or anyone you know would like to participate in providing DIRECT AID to displaced people here in Ukraine, it's definitely not too late! You can just click on the DONATE button here on our site, and it'll take you right to our PayPal donation page (and please be aware that you don't need to have a PayPal account to donate, you can just use a regular credit card; if you have any questions, don't hesitate to email us via the Contact Us page).

Thanks for stopping by the website, and here's to a successful upcoming counteroffensive!

Borshchivka, formerly occupied by Russians. We bought all the food for these relief bags, which were then put together for us by a nonprofit in Kharkiv. The acting mayor of the town is in the photo in their administration building.

One of Balakliya's youngest residents.

In Kyiv. Patron, the famous mine-detecting dog. Images of him are everywhere in Ukraine, a true celebrity.

A t-shirt with Patron's image on it.

Kyiv. A bunch of 'Czech Hedgehogs', steel anti-tank barriers.

A young American who gave his life helping Ukraine defend itself against raw Russian aggression.

Independence Square, Kyiv.

Many thousands of flags, each representing fallen defenders of Ukraine.

Destruction of a machine shop in Balakliya.

We try to stop by this BBQ place, on the way toward the previously occupied towns we do aid drops for. Great stuff, and beats a gas station burger anytime...

A frequent but sad site in cities all over Ukraine.

Our young helper, offloading aid at a drop.

Various RPG containers

Contents of aid bags put together for Borshchivka

In Kharkiv, a crater left by a missile that just barely missed the school in the background; it did blow the windows out, but fortunately no one was hurt.

After the delivery of aid bags in Borshchivka.

We bought and assembled 60 gift bags, and bought a loudspeaker and microphones, for a school in Volokhiv Yar. Russian troops burned their school down, but now they'll at least have these for their end of year celebration and party.

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