Volunteers loaded boxes of medical supplies into a truck at a St. Louis Park warehouse, supplies which will ultimately get to Ukraine, to the hospitals there overrun with injured citizens young and old.
Watching the violent events unfolding in Ukraine has been painful for so many, and so employees at Allina Health rallied together to find a way to offer support. As an organization, they are donating 80,000 needles to health care facilities in the war torn country.
Sarah Charai is the director of supply chain operations with Allina and she says it is the company’s employees that started this process.
“We had a lot of employees reaching out to us to see how they could help,” explains Charai. “And so that's what really prompted us to reach out to MATTER. Knowing that they are the experts in being able to quickly mobilize and get needed medical supplies all over the globe and to support different humanitarian efforts.”
MATTER is a Twin Cities nonprofit organization that sources and ships medical supplies and equipment to people living in scarcity, including areas experiencing conflict.
Katie Johnson works for the non-profit and says they were happy to be able to pitch-in on this effort.
“For this particular project, it was more of an emergency basis,” Johnson told WCCO’s Susie Jones. “And then that moved very, very quickly. It's not necessarily something that we always do, but when there are times of emergency and need like this, we're really, really proud to be able to step in and help.”
Johnson says they were contacted by another non-profit, Chalice of Mercy, based in La Crosse, WI, which has people on the ground, and channels established in Ukraine. She says this is still a major undertaking.
“Right now the logistics are kind of wild,” says Johnson. “But as you can imagine, potentially going through Chicago and then going to end up either in Poland or Germany and then be brought into Ukraine. So it is actually going into Ukraine at some point, either through Poland or Germany.”
Johnson also described more about what items are headed to Ukraine.
“Some of the stuff that they were looking for, lots of surgical masks, band aids, lots of ointments, gloves, tubes, catheters, all the kind of things that you would think people would need on the front lines.”
Gretchen Thibault founded the Chalice of Mercy and was on hand for the loading of the trucks.
“We have people within the country that are willing to ship it and take it where it needs to go,” Thibault said. “Whichever airport once we get it on the ground in Poland and Germany, we have the ability to get through the border to Ukraine. We're sending it to the hardest some of the most difficult places in Ukraine. Right now where we feel our effort needs to go.”
Thibault also said there are still areas where they do need some help.
“We have several viable options or different different links to organizations and to be able to fly it over there,” says Thibault. “But if there's anyone that has anything that has cargo space or whatever that can help us bring it into Poland or Germany, that's what we really need.”
Matter's Katie Johnson talked about the emotional aspect to this crisis.
“Especially just the amount of people that have reached out to us has been incredible,” says Johnson. “We get calls every single day, multiple times per day, to be able to do something like this. It's nice because it's really easy to feel hopeless in a situation like this. So it's nice to be able to help where we can.”