Valley-wide Ukrainian coat drive sequel another huge success

124 boxes already on the container ship

[  By Mark Reaman  ]

The December coat drive organized by Crested Butte locals to help supply Ukrainians with warm clothing to deal with a harsh winter with little or no power to keep their homes heated was a success, and the items have arrived in the war-torn country and are being distributed. The drive was so successful that primary organizer Beth Carter decided to do a second round and make it more prominent at both ends of the valley. That week-long drive ended last week, and it too was a success with 124 boxes of clothing collected and they are now already on a container ship currently harbored at an East Coast dock that will end up in Ukraine.

Carter said the response to the coat drive sequel was phenomenal in both Crested Butte and Gunnison. The organization “Hope for Ukraine” has been astounded by the generosity of the people in the valley and appreciative of the coats, gloves, blankets and stuffed animals that will bring comfort to those dealing with Russian assaults on the country’s water and power infrastructure.

“We sent 124 boxes this time (on top of 106 boxes in December), with the caveat that more than half the shipment was packed in boxes three times the size of the ones we used in the last drive,” said Carter. “That said, the valley nearly overwhelmed the packers in both CB and Gunnison as they tried to keep up with the red barrels heaped with warm wear. There were many days the barrels had to be emptied three times a day to make room for more donations.”

Carter said thanks to its sponsors, “Hope for Ukraine” has vans and Ukrainian drivers available for transporting donations to the Port of New York, so unlike last time when Crested Butte’s Kate Seeley drove a U-Haul to New York, this time a driver (Andriy) came here to transport the collected goods on January 24.

“The delightful part of unloading the donations was imagining the Ukrainians receiving such a variety of warm wear,” said Carter. “From newly knitted wool hats and scarves to weather-worthy mittens and gloves, to high-tech base layers, fleece jackets, wool sweaters and coats, and of course, a ton of puffy jackets and durable ski pants were packed. Sturdy winter boots and merino socks topped off the contributions. Wool blankets were often included, as were sleeping bags. Near the warfront, these items are the key to survival.”

It was not just used winter ware in good condition that was collected, but Carter said some people went shopping for new coats and clothing. “While up on Snodgrass, I spoke with a couple I knew,” she relayed. “They had missed the deadline for the last drive, and I told them about the upcoming sequel and that they had not missed their chance to clean out their closets. They said, “Forget that, we’re going shopping!” Sure enough, a load of clothing arrived, tags still attached.

“In the main, the donations we got were of quality clothing, many brand new and very appropriate for a climate similar to ours,” Carter continued.  “I also loved the stuffed animals that people dropped off.” 

Having Gunnison involved meant a lot more logistics and person-power, Carter admitted, “but it was well worth it. The team was fantastic and grew as the need was evident.”

Carter said soon you will be able to see videos of the distribution on hopeforukraine.net. 

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