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September 9, 2022

My volunteering story started in 2014. One of my uni friends enrolled in the army, so our other friends and I supported him as we could. This year, he's also defending our country, and his battalion needed to take care of the supplies on their own. Of course, they were provided with some things, but not up to the standards.

What we help with

For example, food was a key thing we supplied the soldiers with. At the beginning of the full-scale invasion, my whole family came to live at my house, so we had 12 adults who could help. So, we started cooking for the battalion every day. Now I know how to cook 40 liters of borsch at once :)

Then we started getting requests for things like clothing, load-bearing vests, and tourniquets. Later some devices and cars were added to the wish list. One of the things Brightgrove did was get 9 tablets for guys to manage drones. Also, we bought tires for one of their cars, and now, for example, a batch of helmets and tourniquets is coming.

Moreover, all Bright merch we had on us – t-shirts, hoodies, socks – was split between the battalion and a military hospital in Kharkiv. The guys said it was nice to have a chance to wear clean regular clothing when it was quieter.

If we speak about more unconventional things we helped with, stationery is one of them. I took lots of supplies from our office and gave them to the battalion when they opened a new base. Or I once bought the guys a 120-square meter roll of sleeping mats. The mats are very handy but can be lost or destroyed easily. You won't run low on them so quickly with a roll, though. Also, simple laser pointers were one of the requests.

We also have a corporate chat, where Brights share volunteering initiatives they know about and raise money. This makes it possible to fulfill smaller requests very fast – sometimes the guys collect the necessary amount in just a few hours.

How we get things to the frontline

I deliver most of that stuff to the guys myself. So by the middle of March, soldiers at all the local checkpoints knew me. Partially because of my electric BMW that's quite unusual, but they also remembered the Brightgrove hoodie.

I quickly got very good at fitting quite bulky items like 5 batteries for armored vehicles in my small car. Besides the things we supply, I help the organizer of all Brightgrove's corporate parties with humanitarian aid deliveries.

I, of course, understood the danger of delivering the things myself. Once, we were caught in a shelling in Derhachi, which made me get an armored west for myself. I haven't been wearing it for quite some time now, though, because the situation in Kharkiv is a bit quieter now.

Another volunteering problem I've encountered was dealing with documents for the cars we bought. Some people were okay with just selling the vehicle; some were very cautious about officially changing its ownership. So, I had to be fast in finding lawyers because you can't spend a long time on the process in a situation like this.

Logistics also stand in our way sometimes. Considering how fast you need to find and deliver things sometimes, mishaps with shipping companies can be very annoying. But we still make it work.

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