For the past two weeks, York St John University’s campus has been the centre of an unprecedented effort to collect humanitarian aid for the people of Ukraine. After initially appealing to staff and students for suitable clothes and food, the appeal quickly gained momentum, and the University became a donation hub for aid from across the region.
An estimated 75 tonnes of aid have been collected and sorted by volunteers at the University. At one point the Chapel, Students’ Union reception and half of the University’s dining hall were filled to the ceiling with bags of donated items. The goods ranged from warm clothes, sleeping bags and nappies to pot noodles and wind-up torches.
The University has been working with UK charity Vulnerable Citizen Support (VCS) who are arranging for the boxes to be taken to drop sites in Romania and Poland. Under guidance from the Ukrainian Embassy, the donations are being transported forward by agencies on the ground to be distributed to Ukrainian refugees.
Anyone wishing to support the people of Ukraine is now encouraged to consider donating to a global charity as the best and quickest way to help those affected by the war.
York St John University Chaplain Jane Speck said: “This past fortnight has been proof that the community of York and North Yorkshire truly do ‘stand with Ukraine’. The generosity of spirit that we’ve seen has been staggering.
“I would especially like to thank everyone who has donated to the efforts and supported us, including many businesses around York, Bootham School and York Minster. A special mention must also go to the staff and students of York St John who have given up so much of their time to sort through the mountain of donations and make sure much-needed supplies can help those who need it most.”
Carol Towner from York St John’s School Administration Unit has been the logistical lead for the effort, she said: “The outpouring of generosity and commitment to move this mountain of aid to where it is needed has been mind-blowing. I cannot thank the local removals companies and everyone who provided boxes and sorted and filled them enough.
“This week 5 vehicles carrying around 18 tonnes of essential items has arrived at a hotel in Poland where refugees are being housed. An articulated lorry carrying 33 pallets of medical equipment and first aid essentials is due to leave shortly.”
Director of VCS Haydn Jessop said: “Thousands of refugees are having to flee their homes in Ukraine with nothing, having to leave their entire lives behind. We couldn’t support these people in crisis without the generous donations from the public.
“We’d like to thank everyone who has contributed and especially the staff and students of York St John University for this co-ordinated effort. We are still fundraising to cover fuel, transportation and visa costs so please consider contributing via our Go Fund Me page.”