When a cargo container from Greater Victoria lands at its overseas destination there is no B.C. air on board.
That’s because it’s so crammed full of boxes, tins, bags and containers of items needed by those living where it lands.
Stuffies fill every extra crevice of the latest container that was assembled by volunteers on Jan. 25 at the Compassionate Resource Warehouse (CRW), destined for Poland to aid those living with war in Ukraine.
It’s the first container of 2023 and specifically kitted to battle winter cold in parts of the war-torn country without electricity. Right up to the morning the container is packed and shipped, the team is talking to those on the ground in Poland – with direct input from those in Ukraine, explains Dell Marie Wergeland, president of the CRW Society.
“Every container is different there aren’t two the same, it’s all basically what is required what is needed at this particular time,” Wergeland said. “We have partners on the ground so they have sent us ‘this is what we need right now.’”
Fresh on the morning coffee, as they start to load the carefully curated load – featuring five heavy generators and the tools required to maintain them – the volunteers scramble to find the last-minute items they just learned are needed.
“They’re very cold. This is a very cold time to be in Ukraine without power,” said Dr. Bridget Stirling, president of ICROSS Canada, a partner in the latest container. “These generators are very important to health care, to education to communication and just to general life.”
CRW often partners with ICROSS, another charity that works to supply medical and educational supplies around the world and in Canada, primarily folks who are displaced, refugees or immigrants, Stirling said.
“We like to support them to have a fresh start somewhere else in the world or be supported where they are, such as in Ukraine.”
The Compassionate Resource Warehouse in Greater Victoria launched in 1999 and Wergeland has been involved for more than 20 years. Volunteers have collected, processed, packaged and shipped a variety of donated goods and equipment to responsible charities and other groups around the world where they’re distributed free to people in need.
The goal is to provide opportunity and hope. Wergeland sees it as also offering hope and purpose for those who donate, whether it’s a hand-made item or handfuls of cash.
“It’s person-to-person – there’s a real person on the other end and there’s a person here. I think all of us have a need to respond and care for people. There is something very profound, very simple but very profound, about being able to say ‘we’re helping someone else,’” she said.
“We can each do something and I think that’s what is the compassionate caring part that we need to do, whether it’s responding to a need here or nationally or overseas it doesn’t matter. There are so many needs, find one and fill it.”
The organization sent 21 containers total last year, 13 to the Ukrainian crisis and others to countries in Africa. Loads last year went to Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Kenya to build or set up skill development centres, schools, senior homes, orphanages and many safe homes.
“Safe homes seems to be a need right now for people who may have been trafficked or (in) abusive situations, seniors, or the most vulnerable. So there are a lot of safe centres. We are asked – and we send them everything they need to set up,” Wergeland said.
The container left Greater Victoria on Jan. 25 and they generally land where needed within 30 days.
Learn how to donate at crwarehouse.ca.
Izzy dolls maintain value
The Izzy doll legacy remains strong more than a decade after the death of their namesake.
Master Cpl. Mark Isfeld was a Canadian peacekeeping soldier killed by a landmine June 21, 1994 while on tour in Croatia.
He was 31.
He was known for handing out small dolls crocheted by his mother. After Isfeld’s death, his comrades in 1 Combat Engineer Regiment asked her to continue making the Izzy dolls for them to give out.
To this day, charities and non-profit groups worldwide hand out the Izzy dolls – created by a similarly diverse array of knitters and crocheters – to children living in vulnerable communities.
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